Open Circle

Elementary SELect Program

Program Design and Implementation Support

The Open Circle program, for use in kindergarten through fifth grade, is designed to equip teachers with effective practices for creating a cooperative classroom community and establishing positive relationships and effective approaches to problem solving within the classroom. The program has, on average, 34 structured lessons each year that cover relationship building and communication skills, understanding and managing emotions, and problem solving. Lessons begin with a review of the previous lesson, introduce new concepts, develop and practice new skills, provide homework/extension activities, and suggest connections to literature. Supplementary lessons are also provided to support each core lesson. The Open Circle program also has a separate unit on bullying, as well as separate components to support school-wide implementation and family involvement. Open Circle provides information on “Key Cultural Factors”  and “Dimensions of Difference and Similarity” to support implementation with diverse groups. The program provides frequent suggestions and reminders for teachers regarding cultural sensitivity and ethnic norms. Additional reading is recommended for teachers, and letters to parents/caregiver are available in English and Spanish. Initial training for the Open Circle program typically spans four seven-hour training days and also includes two two-hour on-site training sessions. Trainings are spread across the academic year and are required.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Open Circle has been evaluated in a small (n=152) quasi-experimental study. Students were followed within the course of a single year.

Hennessey, B. A. (2007). Promoting social competence in school-aged children: The effects of the Open Circle program. Journal of School Psychology, 45, 349-360.