This year, Upper School teachers have begun facilitating the Open Parachute program during students’ advisory periods, which occur every other week on Wednesdays. The Open Parachute program is a computer-based program designed to increase social-emotional learning (SEL) while building resilient students, competent teachers, and skilled role models.
Teachers will use the online research-based Open Parachute curriculum to deliver the lessons. So far this year, teachers have had their students complete a survey and participate in icebreaker activities to set the foundation for the course and help them to get to know their advisees. The first lesson, “Honesty and Peer Groups,” will begin on September 28. Throughout the program this year, students will watch videos, participate in class discussions, and do group work. Each grade level will focus on different aspects of mental wellbeing, from understanding what mental health is, to learning about boundaries and consent, to developing tools to improve mental health, etc. At the end of each lesson, students will complete exit tickets. The teachers will then review these exit tickets and, based on the information obtained from them, will refer students to their counselor if they have a concern.
Research shows that SEL programs also improve academic achievement. According to Open Parachute’s research, students who participate in SEL programs (versus students who do not participate) benefit in the following ways:
- 27% more students improve their academic performance
- 57% more gain in their skill levels
- 24% more have improved social behaviors and lower levels of distress
- 23% more have improved attitudes
- 22% more show fewer conduct problems
The impact of SEL programs lasts far beyond high school, setting students up to become lifelong learners and develop their character. Social-emotional health does not come naturally; it’s a skill that must be taught, deliberately and intentionally. Open Parachute give teachers in the Upper School the necessary tools to do just that.