April 4, 2019

Greetings Kent Community,

Is there something on your mind that our group can help you process or solve? Do you have wisdom, clarification, or support that might help another classmate navigate a challenging situation?  These two important questions drive Open Session, a new component to our advisory program that we are experimenting with this spring.

Two weeks ago we welcomed Janice and Rush from the Institute for Social and Emotional Learning to teach us about Open Session, a class meeting structure where the teacher serves as a facilitator, and students generate discussion topics and themes to be processed and problem-solved by their peers. Here’s how it works. Students are invited to write on a note card something for which they would like feedback. It can be a looming decision, a challenge, a worry or concern, a dilemma, or a joy to share. Students may submit these anonymously or with their names included.

Next, the teacher reads one notecard at a time to the advisory group. After a note card is read, students are encouraged to respond with three types of statements: wisdom, clarification, and/or support. They are provided with sentence starters like, "I wonder if…," "In my experience…," 'I’m sorry to hear…," and "I had a similar problem and…" to help peers to respond productively. Members of the advisory class offer this wisdom, clarification, and support until the topics are thoroughly explored. Then, the teacher moves on to the next note card and the process repeats.

Open Session empowers students to guide their peers to a healthy resolution of everyday problems. It also develops and nurtures relationships and creates a space built into our school day to work through non-academic issues.

All advisors will try Open Session at least once this spring, and we are planning for Open Session to be a regular part of the advisory experience next year!

Grant Althouse
Kent Principal