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2014 Back-to-School Books
For students of all ages, "Back to School" is a phrase that evokes a wide range of emotions based on very different experiences.

Fall Events

October 17: SEL Breakfast Forum
at Boston College, offered by SEL-TEd


Try SELweb

The Rush University NeuroBehavioral Center is offering free access to SELweb, a new system for assessing children's SEL skills.

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Fall 2014

kids_welcome.jpg Welcome back to school!  As you embark on a new school year, here are a few tips for maximizing the impact of Open Circle in your school:



  • Hold Open Circle Meetings twice a week for 15 minutes. Put it in your schedule - it helps! Find a time that works best for you and your students (e.g., beginning of day, after recess, after lunch).

  • Encourage students to problem solve getting in and out of the circle. Come up with a plan, try it, evaluate, revise, and test again. It's problem solving in action, right from the start!

  • Pace yourself. Give yourself permission to get through part of a lesson in one meeting. Go at a pace that suits your students' needs.

  • Send Home Link letters to families to reinforce Open Circle approaches at home.

  • If this is your first year implementing Open Circle, be patient with yourself as you learn and practice facilitation techniques.


  • Create a schedule for all adults in your school community to visit and sit in the open chair during an Open Circle Meeting.

  • Unite your school community by infusing Open Circle vocabulary and non-verbal signals into special subjects, school events, announcements, and visuals throughout your school.

  • Strengthen staff relationship by leveraging Open Circle concepts and community-building activities in staff meetings.

  • Obtain books from Open Circle's book lists and designate an Open Circle library section.

Trainers Receive Warm Welcome 

in Africa

Open Circle in Africa? That's right! This past May, Open Circle Trainers Jen Dirga and Sallie Dunning traveled to the district of Tororo in Eastern Uganda at the invitation of Beatrice Achieng Nas, founder of the Pearl Community Empowerment Foundation.

Read more

Please join us for a free Lunchtime Seminar on November 20, 2014. Sallie and Jen will be sharing insights, stories and photos. Beatrice will also join via Skype to share her perspective and answer questions.


If your school is interested in partnering with one of the elementary schools in Tororo, Uganda, email Sallie for more information.

Open Circle Goes to 
Washington, D.C.

What are critical success factors to implementing a whole-school SEL program across a large, urban school district? This was the focus of Open Circle's presentation at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) fall 2014 Conference in Washington, D.C.  


Nova Biro, Open Circle Co-Director, presented the paper "Collaboration to Achieve Whole School SEL Across a Large, Urban District" as part of the session Exploring School Contexts and Implementations to Improve Social and Emotional Learning. The presentation noted the following success factors to large district implementation: 

  • Cultivating multiple SEL champions at the district-level and throughout schools
  • Leveraging relationships and funding from external partners and community groups
  • Following up and following through to ensure schools complete training and implement programming, and
  • Expecting and adapting to a wide range of school needs, capacities and commitment.

Additional conference sessions under the theme Supporting the Social and Emotional Growth of Children explored the development and validation of more effective measurement tools for SEL outcomes and created a monitoring system for districts to promote academic, social, and emotional learning.

Online Coaching:

A Powerful Tool 

Nearly 30 teachers participating in the Open Circle's Core Program this year will receive their coaching visits online. Teachers will videotape two Open Circle Meetings (one in fall, one in spring), share these videos with their Open Circle coach, review their videos and complete a reflection worksheet, and discuss these reflections with their coach during two online meetings using Google Hangouts.

Participants in online coaching have appreciated the deeper reflection and learning gained from watching a video of their Open Circle facilitation. Research suggests that video coaching can be a powerful tool to help educators strengthen classroom management and instructional practice. 

We Appreciate Our Schools!

As the school year begins, we are thankful for all of our Open Circle communities' hard work and growth! We are looking forward to working with all of you and adding new members to our community this year. We value our collaboration with you to create school communities where each and every student develops the social and emotional skills to succeed in school, work, and life. With your support, we can reach more teachers and schools, and help more students succeed in and out of the classroom. 
Yes, I would like to support Open Circle.

2014 Open Circle, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College  *  781-283-3277  *