We offer a full program of social and emotional learning (SEL) for students at all grade levels.
We cover essential life skills and topics such as communication and empathy, self-awareness and reflection, goal-setting and organization, and sex education and health.
We focus on these topics in participatory workshops and activities offered during Flex Fridays and Build Weeks. Students develop and practice many of these skills in academic classes of all disciplines, with a focus on mediated discussions, collaborative projects, and weighing multiple, nuanced perspectives.
Further, we model SEL values and competencies in all school interactions from morning meetings to disciplinary procedures to the collaboration between teachers.
Important to our SEL curriculum is deliberate reflection at the end of each block, during which each student writes up a challenge and success of the previous block and authors a set of goals for the future.
Students begin with a foundational unit establishing our school community and principles, and then journey through a series of workshops that help them build relationships.
We leverage our block system to structure growth academically and socially. We first develop a shared set of values and expectations among all students, faculty, and staff, and then work on how we relate to ourselves, to others, and to our communities.
Block 1: Establishing our school community
We establish our community principles, both at school and in the neighborhoods we pass through to get here. Students learn about emergency procedures at school and safety on their commute. We emphasize such executive functioning skills as organization and time management that help them thrive. Students test out their developing skill set through a school-wide project: planning and carrying out multiple explorations of the city’s various neighborhoods, researching their histories, and collaborating on producing an interactive guide to San Francisco.
Block 2 : Relating to ourselves
Students participate in a series of workshops about how we listen to and take care of our bodies and our minds. Topics include emotional granularity (identifying and naming emotions), resilience, nutrition and physical self-care, mental wellness and illness, and drug and alcohol education. During build week, students participate in age-appropriate sex ed workshops, learning about puberty, sexuality, gender, healthy relationships, and consent.
Block 3: Relating to others
We work this block on relating to others and identifying assumptions we may have about them, with a focus on developing interpersonal skills such as listening, reading nonverbal cues, and managing social anxiety. Students take a series of workshops aimed at developing their public speaking skills and, more broadly, their communication skills. We also revisit executive functioning skills to ensure successful collaborations for the annual Math Symposium, during which students present their work on open-ended math problems.
Block 4: Relating to our larger community
In this block, we consider how we relate to others as part of a larger community, with an eye toward a Build Week devoted to kindness, community, and service. We start by discussing what makes up a community, what it means to be a part of one, and what it means to belong to multiple communities. Students participate in workshops on compassion, conflict resolution, and understanding intent versus impact in our words and actions. During Build Week, each grade level takes part in a different community service project, ranging from environmental cleanup to work in a soup kitchen.
Block 5: Synthesizing our skills
Students bring all their SEL skills to bear—from time management to communication skills—as they brainstorm and carry out independent projects of their choosing. Students meet in affinity groups based on their proposed projects, engage in peer workshops to help develop the projects of other students, and collaborate as an entire school on setting up the end-of-year symposium. Students plan the layout of the symposium, discuss and negotiate the allocation of spaces, and help each other bring projects to completion. The independent project period is as much about self-directed learning as it is about interdependent learning.
Students not only learn how to work in a group and make collective decisions but also take time to reflect on the skills they're practicing.
Students learn how to communicate effectively by listening to their peers, appreciating multiple perspectives, disagreeing productively, and working in teams. We help our students direct their curiosity into compassionate group and individual work.
Throughout the year, students reflect in writing on their personal disposition in each of their classes and their goals for the future. One of the main dispositional goals for Proof School students is learning how to “struggle with it” and thrive in the midst of ambiguity. Whether they are stuck on a concept or on the next step in a project, students learn how to feel more comfortable with uncertainty. This also reminds them that learning is not about mastery but rather about the process of discovery and exploration.
Our focus on project-based learning across the curriculum, in which curiosity is the primary impetus for inquiry, further helps students cultivate values such as courage, resilience, and honesty.