Open Circle

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Program description

Open Circle, offered by the Wellesley Center for Women, provides a lesson-based approach to SEL. It includes programming for grades K-5 and demonstrates evidence of effectiveness at grade 4. The first “Home Link” letter to families and all vocabulary terms are translated into 8 different languages (Chinese, Cape Verde Creole, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Somali, Portuguese, Vietnamese). All other family letters and mini skill posters are translated into Spanish.

Strategies supporting educational equity

Open Circle provides strategies for working with bias and customizing for context. This includes guidance throughout the teacher manuals for adjusting lessons to meet the needs of students. Additionally, there is a section during training called “Dimensions of Difference and Similarity,” that speaks directly to educators and administrators considering their multiple identities and how those identities impact their work with students and families.

      • SEL lessons
      • Relationship building
      • SEL generalization
      • Shared agreements
      • Systemic support for SEL
      • Adult SEL
      • Family Intervention Component
      • Activities and Resources for Home
    • Onsite in-person training
    • Virtual training
    • Offsite training
    • Train the trainer model
    • Administrator support
    • Coaching
    • Technical assistance
    • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
    • Online resource library
    • Self-report tools for monitoring implementation
    • Observational tools
    • Tools for measuring student success

Evidence of effectiveness

Results from a quasi-experimental study published in 2007 supported the effectiveness of Open Circle for elementary school students. This evaluation included 154 students in grade 4 in urban and suburban schools (white = 69%, Black = 17%, Latinx= 10%). This evaluation found that students who participated in the program showed significantly greater teacher-reported improvements in both social skills and problem behaviors (e.g., externalizing problems, internalizing problems, hyperactivity) than students in the control group (outcomes reported 9 months after baseline). These findings were especially true for students attending urban schools.

  • Evidence shown in grades
    School characteristics
      • Urban
      • Suburban
    Student characteristics
    • Black / African American
    • Hispanic / Latinx
    • White
    Percentage Low Income
    • Not Specified
    Study design type
    • QE
    Greater than 350 students included in study design type
    • No
    Multiple school districts included at study design type
    • No
    • Improved academic performance
    • Reduced emotional distress
    • Improved identity development and agency
    • Reduced problem behaviors
    • Improved school climate
    • Improved school connectedness
    • Improved social behaviors
    • Improved teaching practices
    • Improved other SEL skills and attitudes

How does Open Circle support SEL implementation across multiple settings?

“Open Circle has always believed that engaging and supporting all of the adults in a child's life is critical to effective SEL. Open Circle provides training for classroom teachers, school/district administrators, specialist and support staff as well as families and community members.”
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