We engage students in meaningful work, and create a climate which is open to student initiative and risk taking. When students have ideas of something they want to do, start, or try, we work hard to say yes — to encourage action. A climate and pattern of taking the perspective of others, seeing situations from a systemic perspective, and then initiating ways to address needs and make a positive difference can breed a habit for life.
Leadership development starts with self awareness and emotional intelligence, and then grows from this core to awareness about impact on others, and then out to take responsibility for the larger community. We listen to our students. We give them choice and control. Our role as educators is to enable discovery, encourage inquiry and struggle, and then to help light their way as they find answers and take action. We build student skill in emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration, into the daily work in the classroom — real time during projects, recess, and conversations. At different ages and when students are at different stages, we imbue day to day activities with opportunities for leadership.
Social Skills & Emotional Intelligence Groups
Drawing from theorists Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind (1983) and Daniel Goldman’s Emotional Intelligence (1995), the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programming at the Acera School is a process for learning life skills, including self-awareness and self-management, social and interpersonal skills, decision making and communication. These skills are paramount to learning to deal with our selves, others, relationships, and to work effectively together.
Activities and standards are based on emotional competencies outlined by Goldman (1995) and include but are not limited to:
- Awareness (of self and others): understanding and identifying feelings; knowing when one’s feelings shift; understanding the difference between thinking, feeling and acting; and understanding that one’s actions have consequences in terms of others’ feelings
- Mood management: handling and managing difficult feelings; controlling impulses; handling anger constructively
- Self-motivation: being able to set goals and persevere towards them with optimism and hope, even in the face of setbacks
- Empathy: being able to put yourself “in someone else’s shoes” both cognitively and affectively; being able to take someone else’s perspective; being able to show that you care
- Management of relationships: making friends, handling friendships; resolving conflicts; cooperating; collaborative learning and other social skills
To accomplish these goals, Acera students engage in a series of stories, games, and cooperative activities while reflecting on the group process each week. Best practices, lessons and ideas are pulled from Super Flex, Open Circle, and other social skills curricula.
Model UN (Middle School only)
The Acera Model United Nations Program is designed to introduce middle school students to the perspectives of other cultures and to a number of important world issues. While becoming immersed in research on a foreign country and its policies and culture, the students will also immerse themselves in a variety of world issues and gain an understanding of different perspectives on these issues. As they do this, they will develop skills in research and writing, public speaking, debate, negotiation, and practical creative problem solving. The program will be centered around preparation for three conferences this year:
- November 17: United Nations Association of Greater Boston Middle School Model UN at Northeastern University where we were assigned the countries of Japan, Sudan, and South Africa
- March 2: Bentley University Model United Nations for which registration has just begun
- April 11 – 13: United Nations Association of America International Middle School Model UN in New York City, which is held partially in the real UN General Assembly Hall and is attended by students from more than 30 states and 15 countries
Students who are unable to participate in any of the conferences will be fully included in the teaching and learning process, and will get to try out their skills at our regular mock debate sessions. Through this program students will gain many important 21st century skills, as well as begin the process of becoming true global citizens of our ever more interconnected world.