Manners of the Heart uses free-standing lessons to promote social and emotional development for students in Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth grade. The program includes 115 lessons per grade, designed to be delivered as 15-minute daily activities over 23 Weeks.
The curriculum is broken down into four units: Attitudes of the Heart, Everyday Courtesies, Communication Skills, and Living in Community. Within each unit, weekly lesson plans include stories, movement, tech time, drama/ creative play, and music. A stated mission for the program is to “restore respect and civility in our society.” At times, there is a focus on manners and good behavior over opportunities to develop and practice SEL competencies. Self-awareness receives less attention than other competencies. While the curriculum itself is available only in English, the Home Connection Letters are available in Spanish, as well.
Training and Implementation Support
Manners of the Heart recommends two days of on-site implementation training, with one day occurring towards the start of the school year and the second occurring in the middle of the school year. Generally, program staff members conduct a one-on-one interview with the school leaders prior to coming on-site to ensure the training is tailored to fit the needs of the school. The first day of training focuses on building investment amongst school staff, walking through the materials and general structure of Manners of the Heart, and giving a tutorial of the program’s digital components, called “My Manners.”
The second day of training is customized to the needs of the school. Topics could include revisiting materials from the first training session or facilitating discussions and activities for building Adult SEL in teachers. Between these sessions, program personnel are available for on-site coaching visits for local schools and web-based coaching (e.g., FaceTime, Skype) for non-local schools. After the first year of implementation, Manners of the Heart conducts follow-up support calls to check-in on school progress.
Additionally, Manners of the Heart offers various tracking tools for schools to ensure fidelity of implementation and measure impact. These tools include pre- and post-assessments for students, end of year teacher surveys, and a classroom observation protocol. The digital component of the program also offers a tracking tool for school leaders to observe what online materials teachers are utilizing and engaging with most/least and with what frequency.
Evidence of Effectiveness
Results from a quasi-experimental evaluation conducted in 2014 supported the effectiveness of Manners of the Heart for elementary students. This evaluation included 1,760 students (at post-test) who were in kindergarten to 5th (over 80% African American, 84% or more eligible for FRL). This evaluation found that students who participated in the program demonstrated significant positive change in standardized reading scores for kindergarten students and for 5th grade students in math standardized scores, compared to students in the comparison group (outcomes reported approximately 9 months after baseline). However, the evaluation also found that the comparison group (2nd grade students) outperformed students who participated in the program on math standardized scores. In addition, pre-test scores were not adjusted for in these analyses. For these reasons, Manners of the Heart, is designated as Promising.