"Wisdom grows through questions asked in a space that encourages trust and allows for self disclosure."
- Center for Practical Wisdom at the University of Chicago
Whole student development
Traditional classroom instruction plays an important role in helping students to learn facts and concepts about the world. Teachers are steeped in their domain of expertise (such as math, science, ELA), and use a range of techniques to help students master valuable areas of knowledge. Human development, in contrast, involves students in the exploration of their inner world. There are limited maps for this highly personal landscape, which includes aspects of one’s unique motivations, beliefs and mindsets. To guide students through this journey in a safe, constructive process requires teachers to have spent time developing their own self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It also requires a different teaching skill set, grounded in authentic inquiry and small group facilitation.
Student Advisory period
"Advisory programs offer the structure to meet students' developmental needs, because it is the one place in school where students are intimately known as a ‘whole child’"
- Middle school journal
Adolescents in particular are most curious about who they are becoming, how to relate to their peers, and how they want to act in the world. By addressing these topics openly, educators provide a venue for sustainable social-emotional development. This process, in turn, provides students with critical skills not only for improved academic performance but also for navigating complex life situations. Student Advisory period offers middle schools and early high school grades nationwide a structured time in the weekly schedule to develop these critical capacities.
What is Millennium Forum?
"Millennium School has looked to the research to create a very effective advisory program that cultivates students’ social emotional wellbeing and also enhances their relationships with peers and teachers."
- Vicki Zakrzewski, Education Director, Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley
Forum is Millennium’s approach to peer-to-peer moderated small group community circles. Developed over several years and grounded in therapeutic research of healthy adolescent development, Forum provides educators and students alike a structured process for exploring human development. Forums convene regularly to introduce new SEL-related skills, practice application in a safe social setting, and develop deeper self-awareness and social-emotional intelligence.
Forum for Educators
"Teachers are the engine that drives SEL programs and practices in schools, and their own social-emotional competence and wellbeing strongly influences their students."
- Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Professor of Human Development, Univ. British Columbia
While educators and parents clamor for increased social-emotional learning in the classroom, many schools - particularly in the middle and high school grades - struggle to make whole-student development a reality in the classroom. Teachers report increasingly high levels of stress in the workplace while expressing frustration over the lack of SEL training and support they have received.
Millennium organizes networks of educators across schools and districts into peer-to-peer Forums, supported by professional development programs and services, to address three pressing needs:
1. Teacher Stress Management & Wellbeing
Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations, often linked to its social-emotional demands, and lack of training, support, and peer collaboration. Teacher stress has been linked to high-level of cortisol in students, which reduces learning efficacy.
2. SEL Professional Development
4 of 5 teachers want more support to address students’ social and emotional development, and 4 of 5 teacher preparation programs are considered “weak”. Millennium’s programs provide educators a foundation in applied neuroscience.
3. Tools for Whole-Student Development
We define education for the 21st century as education for the whole child, including cognitive, social, emotional, creative and spiritual domains. Millennium provides educators with tools for confidently facilitating middle school student Forums.
Embedded Learning Cycle
The result of this integrated approach is a school-wide culture of embedded development and sustainable organizational learning. Teachers no longer need to feel isolated in their classrooms without support or coaching from other educators. By embedding monthly Forums in the school’s schedule, educators create venues for open dialogue, feedback, and learning across traditional silos of teachers, counselors and administrative staff. Through Millennium’s Partner School Program, schools can connect classroom teachers with leading researchers, creating an action-learning loop for adaptive, practical application of developmental science.
Partner School Program
Millennium is currently partnering with select Bay Area public middle schools to implement school-wide Forums and SEL development programs. We are grateful for the principals, counselors, and teachers committed to transforming culture and students at these schools. Together we are creating program materials and school-wide implementation models for scaling Millennium Forum and professional development programs across districts and states.