Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), Human Development, and Human Sexuality
As part of our commitment to educate the whole child, the Maret social curriculum seeks to develop the social, emotional and physical health of our students. This K-12 program promotes respect for self and others, an appreciation of differences, and empathy.
The social curriculum gives students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and a sense of responsibility to these communities. As students grow in their understanding of these issues and develop the related skills, they will be better equipped to lead happy and healthy lives.
The social curriculum addresses:
- Conflict Resolution, Bullying/Harassment
- Decision-making; Drug and Alcohol Education
- Relationships and Empathy
- Connection to the Global Community
- Nutrition and health
- Diversity and Stereotypes
- Sexuality Education
- Respect and Consent
- Leadership Training
Maret is a vibrant, K–12, coeducational, independent school in Washington, DC. We ignite our students’ potential; foster their academic, artistic, and athletic talents; and promote their well-being. We develop the mind, nurture curiosity, welcome challenge, embrace joy, and build community that is equitable and inclusive.
From the School PHILOSOPHY
Maret believes that social and emotional development is central to students’ well-being and success. We encourage our students to tackle challenges in a culture of nurtured risk taking. We want them to push beyond their comfort zone so they can build resilience, character, and robust problem-solving skills. We understand the need for balance in our lives and seek opportunities to infuse our school day with moments of laughter and surprise.
- Lower School: SEL
- Middle School: SEL and Human Development
- Upper School: Human Sexuality, Respect, and Consent
Grades K-4 taught by School Counselor and Wellness Teacher Meghan Keller, MA Counseling–School Specialization
The Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program helps students practice self-reflection and teaches everyday conflict resolution and emotion management skills. Through a sequenced SEL curriculum, students develop intra- and interpersonal skills. They think reflectively about themselves as individuals, as members of a small community (their classroom), and as part of the larger communities of Maret and the world.
The lower school SEL curriculum builds students’ capacity in five main areas: social awareness, relationship skills, personal decision-making, self-management, and self-awareness. These competencies are at the core of each SEL lesson, which is designed to meet students at their developmental levels. Throughout Lower School, the curriculum spirals through these main areas, providing students with opportunities to revisit topics and address age-appropriate challenges. The SEL curriculum is responsive; it allows the flexibility to address particular issues or social dynamics that arise within a class or grade.
SEL classes meet weekly and are taught by the lower school counselor with participation from the homeroom teacher. Through guided discussions and well-planned lessons, students learn how to be a good friend, identify and manage emotions, address bullying, resolve conflicts, and build pro-social behaviors. Every grade has two lessons on appropriate physical boundaries and consent. The children practice effective communication skills and teamwork. Homeroom teachers support community building by creating norms and expectations with the students. Skills and strategies introduced during SEL lessons are reinforced by the homeroom teachers throughout the school day.
Students learn to understand themselves as individuals while learning to get along with each other. The focus is on identity and what makes each child unique. There is an emphasis on Maret’s norms for social interactions (e.g. sharing, kindness). Through these lessons, kindergartners learn to identify and regulate their emotions, calm their bodies, resolve conflicts with classmates, and assert boundaries.
SEL lessons in first grade are called Friendship meetings and discuss aspects of identity that make us unique and impact our experiences. Students develop conflict resolution skills with peers, relying less on adult intervention. Through an exploration of self-regulation, students learn that they can make choices about how to behave in a situation, recognize different opinions and perspectives, and maintain boundaries in relationships. Through our conversations, they better understand that who we are should not limit what we are allowed to do.
Students recognize the importance of friendly behavior and of being inclusive in their social interactions. Teacher-led meetings encourage the development of appropriate social interactions. Students learn the acronym C.A.R.E.S (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control) and discuss ways to demonstrate these skills. They practice recognizing, naming, and expressing their emotions. Active listening, empathy, and building connections with classmates are also emphasized. Students learn and explore the difference between “fair” and “equal” and practice non-verbal communication skills to bring awareness to the intended and unintended messages they are sending.
Children use games, activities, and friendly competition to practice teamwork, cooperation, and communication skills. As they solve problems collaboratively, they learn good sportsmanship. There is also a focus on building healthy relationships and interpersonal skills, such as active listening, conflict resolution, inclusion/exclusion, and managing emotions.
Students deepen and expand upon their prior knowledge. They continue to explore boundaries and the complexities of emotions; they think about how, when, and why they may feel more than one emotion simultaneously and they consider why some emotions are harder to express than others. Children practice problem-solving skills and work with the concepts of escalating and deescalating conflicts. Passive, aggressive, and assertive communication styles, and the messages they send, are explored.
Each spring, Debbie Roffman, a nationally renowned sex educator, visits the fourth grade to begin the conversation about sexuality. The school nurse follows up with information on body changes; science and homeroom teachers continue these discussions.
Grades K-6: School Counselor and Wellness Teacher Meghan Keller, MA Counseling–School Specialization; and
Grade 7-8: Director of Counseling LaNaadrian Easterling, CSSP, Psy.D. Clinical Psychology, Emphasis in Multicultural Community Psychology
At the end of each year, citizenship awards are given to a boy and a girl at each grade level; these awards are highly prized and reflect Maret’s core values. Grade-level meetings and smaller advisor group gatherings provide forums for students to gain greater understanding of these values and how to live them actively. In addition, classes and group discussions on human development and social issues are interwoven throughout the middle school program to help adolescents deal with concerns facing them in today’s society.
Fifth grade human development focuses on friendships, self-awareness, and decision making. A significant amount of time is spent teaching students about puberty, reproductive anatomy, and pregnancy, as well as gender identity and gender expression. Classes start with a “check-in,” giving students the opportunity to practice recognizing their own feelings and gain understanding as to how those feelings influence behavior. Check-in also allows students to practice empathizing with their peers. Through reflective activities, students explore and articulate their boundaries with regard to personal space, emotions, language, and behavior.
In sixth grade, students concentrate on friendships, peer dilemmas, self-awareness, peer pressure, and decision-making. Students continue to reflect on their feelings and gain empathy when they check in at the start of each class. The film Let’s Get Real serves as a starting off point to discuss bullying and responses to bullying behavior. Short videos and discussions about puberty, pregnancy, birth, and reproductive anatomy expand upon the curriculum learned in fifth grade.
Students meet in gender-specific groups to discuss the effects of the emotional and physical changes occurring in their lives. They explore sexual growth and development as well as relationships with parents and friends. Students learn about stereotypes, body image, substance abuse, media messages, and the importance of developing clear communication skills. They learn to make decisions that show respect for themselves and others and take into account the possible consequences of their actions.
As they prepare to transition to Upper School, eighth graders explore sophisticated themes associated with human growth and development. Small and large group work, class assignments, and videos are used as the basis to discuss sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, relationships, decision making, sexual orientation, gender-based expectations, stereotypes, and digital citizenship.
9-12 Grades taught by Director of Counseling LaNaadrian Easterling, CSSP, Psy.D. Clinical Psychology, Emphasis in Multicultural Community Psychology
The upper school program helps upper school students develop into adults who will be thoughtful, healthy, empathetic, engaged, and involved in their communities.
Faculty, administrators, and staff work to ensure that students are respectful of each other and adults; that harassing or offensive comments or acts are recognized, addressed, and corrected; that students are academically honest and understand and avoid plagiarism; that fair play and sportsmanship are encouraged in sporting events; and that open debate and differing points of view are respected.
Many upper school classes embed SEL work into the curriculum. Additional activities take place in advising groups to develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
Coursework and Activities Focused on Relationships, Sexuality, Respect, and Consent
- Grade 10: Human Sexuality class include lessons on sexual assault and consent.
- Annual assembly for entire Upper School, addressing sexual assault and consent, usually featuring an outside speaker, and awareness raising campaigns preceding this.
- Many student clubs focus on conversation about relationships, identity, and issues of respect/consent, including Action for Women, Diversity at Maret, Queer Straight Alliance, End Sexual Assault, Bridging the Divide, and various Affinity Groups.
- Faculty and students attended two years in a row Georgetown Day School's Summit on Sexual Assault and Consent.
- At the annual Day of Dialogue in March 2018—entitled “Relationships Build with Consent: Ending Gender Stereotypes and Sexual Violence with an Enthusiastic “Yes!”—all US students were involved in education and conversation around these issues.
- Courses that incorporate discussions about Respect and Consent include: Topics in Psychology; Civil Liberties; Contemporary American Literature, Law, Culture and Society; and Women’s History.