Brookwood Elementary School is a public school located in Forsyth County, GA. It has 930 students in grades PK, K-5 with a student-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. According to state test scores, 90% of students are at least proficient in math and 83% in reading.
Brookwood Elementary School – Forsyth County Schools, GA
Brookwood had 7 Mindsets in place but wanted to optimize the curriculum and get more out of it.
A structured approach that maps out the students’ use of 7 Mindsets on a week-by-week basis every month.
Upon graduation from high school, students are ready to become functioning, contributing members of society.
When Tracey Smith became Principal of Brookwood Elementary School in Forsyth County, Ga., five years ago, she brought with her a deep understanding of the value of social-emotional learning (SEL). Having used the 7 Mindsets SEL curriculum for roughly six years at her prior school, Smith was well positioned to help Brookwood optimize the curriculum, which had been in place for about a year.
“I didn’t have to convince them that 7 Mindsets was a great program, because they already had adopted it,” said Smith. “We just had to put some more systems in place for the teachers to really amplify its integration into each school day.”
Getting to a Deeper Level with SEL
First, Brookwood created a dedicated time in the master schedule every Monday and Friday and allocated that time for a class meeting and 7 Mindset lesson. It also created a Positive Learning Environment Committee focused on taking the school’s SEL curriculum implementation to a deeper level. “The committee works with the curriculum team to make sure we’re weaving the 7 Mindsets into our classroom language and lessons,” said Smith. For example, if students are studying immigration and learning about empathy, the writing project may focus on the perspective of someone who is coming to the US for the first time from a foreign country, or the person who is admitting those individuals into the country.
“We want to give kids a different perspective instead of just teaching them that, ‘This happened during this timeframe and this is why it happened,’” Smith said. “We want to help them understand why it happened and what life was like for immigrants who left their countries to come to the US.”
Aligning with School Objectives
In Forsyth County, schools follow the Learner Profile, which includes elements like “Engage and Contribute” and “Interact Effectively”—both of which help the district closely consider what a graduate will need to be able to walk across the stage, contribute to society and know how to interact effectively with others in the workplace, with their families and in the community.
Smith said Brookwood’s SEL curriculum closely supports this mission. “7 Mindsets is great because it gives us lessons to do in the classroom and provides the pacing,” she said. Last October, for example, the school used the Passion First mindset to focus on individual strength, the strength in others and how to live up to your strengths.
“We use 7 Mindsets to ‘pour’ that into the kids from every angle,” said Smith, “and then the following week we moved onto Exploring Your Interests, which helps them find a field or interest that they’re passionate about.” The third week is dedicated to Taking a Stand for What You Believe In, while also listening to others and empathizing. The focus for the final week of October was on Being Authentic.
It Starts with Staff
Brookwood also has a 7 Mindsets staff component that centers on its teacher’s strengths and potential growth areas. “We want them to be following their passions, to take a stand and explore their own interests,” said Smith, who has had several teachers switch to different subjects and even leave the educational field to explore other career opportunities.
Currently, Brookwood has a special education teacher whose passion is behavior support. She works with a group of teachers to make sure that they have behavior-managed strategies to support their kids.
“She’s excited to come to work every day because she knows that she’s going to get to work with teachers,” said Smith, “helping them become better at working and tapping into the strengths of some of our most high-potential kids.”
As a long-time 7 Mindsets user, Smith often interacts with students who are in college and who reflect back on their experiences with the SEL curriculum in elementary school. In fact, a guidance counselor from one of her former student’s high schools recently invited Smith to that student’s graduation, knowing what an impact his elementary SEL education had made on him.
This is just one of many reasons why she feels schools should start with teachers and staff when implementing a new SEL curriculum.
“There’s an old adage of, ‘if you don’t feed the teachers, they’ll eat the students,’ that really is true,” said Smith. “By implementing the 7 Mindsets with your staff, you can start changing their thinking around how they look at themselves, how they look at their students, how they look at their lives and how they look at school; that’s the game changer for everything.”