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Pride Advisory Classes: Social and Emotional Support for Every Student

"Going to Pride every day does something for me that no academic class can do. It's like a second home." – Deveon, a 12th-grade Urban Prep, Englewood Campus student.
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Transcript

Pride Advisory Classes: Social and Emotional Support for Every Student (Transcript)

Teacher: How are you, sir? Good morning, good morning, sir. Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Sauder. Morning sir.

Student: I believe there is a correlation between bullying and stress. For example, when someone's being bullied, they might lose sleep because they're stressed about it.

Marcus: Absolutely. What are you willing to do to foster more of an anti bullying culture here at Urban Prep?

Teacher: Our hundred percent college acceptance rate is a direct result of our pride periods. We focus on building them character wise and building their social and emotional skills.

Marcus: It's really difficult to ask a young man to sit and focus in a biology class if they're hungry, if they're worried about where their mom is, if their worried about coming to and from school, and they have to cross gang lines. When they come to pride class, the idea is that this is a relaxing environment where they can talk about issues hat they're facing and also leave with skills every day to help them better navigate their situation in school and outside of school.

What we're going to do today, gentlemen, is actually go through a few activities so that we can know the difference between positive peer interaction and bullying.

Tim: Each of our students is placed when they're freshmen in a group that we call pride. We're Urban Prep lions and lions travel in prides, and so we have our students grouped according to prides, and they meet in their prides every day.

Student: It went on from freshman year to senior year, so it creates more of a connection, where these are like actually my brothers, people that I can lean on if I need something.

Student: We all had to apologize that we weren't trying to make him feel unwanted.

Marcus: Give yourselves a hand. Let's give it up for a while. Great job.

We have four pride leaders and so one pride leader represents each grade level. Essentially, we're kind of like a grade level counselor for them, the one person in the building that will remain consistent from freshman year until graduation, that will know about their familial situations, know about challenges that they've had academically.

Teacher: How has the environment that you have been in affected you?

Student: Where I used to live, people around me set a bad example, so I used to follow kind of and I didn't really work hard.

Teacher: So what does a positive environment look like to you?

Student: Positive people, because people really make up the environment actually. It's the way that people react to each other and treat each other, and show you respect.

Teacher: So, respect.

Marcus: So relationships are the cornerstone of pride. They young men are able to develop a bond with their brothers and their pride families, as well as with an adult in the building. All of the pride leaders have a background or a degree in the field of social work.

Student: Last year when I was having problems with my father, Mister Moore, he came to me, because he noticed that I had a problem.

Lionel: Pride leaders can provide them not just with an ear, but with a toolkit on how to deal with these things.

Marcus: We have a framework full of topics and ideas for our lesson plans for the week. Anything from safe sex practices, college preparedness and awareness, stress.

Explain one thing you learned about stress from this week's discussion. And remember, do not write your name on it.

I asked them, "What should do with stress?" and they said, "Get rid of it," and then they balled up the paper. So let's get rid of the stress.

Go.

We're able to have fun, laugh, be laughed, so that we can actually have that discussion about stress.

Everyone have a snowball?

Students: Yeah.

Marcus: All right, so open them up and let's see what we've learned.

Student: It's fair to say, I have learned that stress affects how much you eat a day.

Student: Sometimes stress could give you some type of body.

Student: One thing I learned is that I should be able to feel good about myself in order to prevent stress. I believe that I haven't felt good about myself for such a long time, that I think that it is a problem for me.

Marcus: As social workers, we also are given the autonomy to address the specific needs of our students. If I had come in class today prepared to do an activity regarding stress, but there had been some community violence issues that arose last night, then that's what we would focus on for that class period.

Gregory: Many of you all know that I had a brother that passed in February, due to gun violence. I had to make a decision. Do I make this anger constructive or destructive?

By facing these issues that many of them try to suppress, w bring them face to face with them so that can talk about ways to deal with these type of things.

Deveon: Constructive anger seems like it would mean, I'm so angry that this violence is going on, so I'm going to go out here and stop it. It puts a passion to your heart, to the point where you don't want to quit. But destructive anger makes you feel like, "I don't care.

Going to pride every day does something for me that no academic class could do. It's like a second home to come and be able to talk about anything, so I don't have to hold things in all day long.

Gregory: What is something that angers you all about society?

Student: You can't be judged on who you are or your character. People just judge you off of your race, your gender, the community you live in.

Student: When a person tries to change their gender, they're treated like a monster, that's my thing.

Deveon: If I get angry, I can just think of pride class and Mister Sashington's words, and it may calm me down.

Lionel: If we really care about academic development, we have to care about social and emotional development. You can't have one without the other. Our students, through our pride program and through the fact that we provide them with those non-cog skill development, they're able to apply to college and be accepted, and then once they get there, they persist.

Student: There's no limits to how many things you could do if somebody is believing in you.

Teacher: Thank you. So when you have that support system, right?

Student: Yes.

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  • Video Producer: Sarita Khurana
  • Editors: Melissa Thompson, Debra Schaffner
  • Post-Production Supervisor: Anna Fields
  • Production Coordinator: Julia Lee
  • Graphics: Cait Camarata, Douglas Keely
  • Head of Production: Gillian Grisman
  • Director of Video: Amy Erin Borovoy

  • Field Production:
  • Producer/Editor: Debra Schaffner
  • Camera: Damon Hennessey
  • Sound: Richard K. Pooler

Overview

At Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, Englewood Campus, an all-black, all-male, 9-12, Title I school in Chicago, Illinois, the curriculum includes a daily social-emotional class, Pride. Each student is part of a small cohort that stays together throughout their four years at Urban Prep. "You're with them from freshman to senior year," says Toy, a 10th-grade Urban Prep, Englewood Campus student. "These are actually my brothers, people that I can lean on if I need something.”

At Urban Prep:

  • Students are admitted via lottery; 85% qualify for free and reduced lunch, and over 20% are diverse learners -- students with disabilities.
  • 100% of students are accepted by a four-year college or university, and 94% enroll in college.

"There are no limits to how many things you can do if somebody believes in you," says one Urban Prep, Englewood Campus student.

How It's Done

Build Relationships With Your Students

Throughout their four years, each Urban Prep student is part of a small cohort known as a Pride. "We're Urban Prep lions, and lions travel in prides. So we have our students grouped according to Prides," explains Tim King, Urban Prep Academies' founder and CEO.

Urban Prep, Englewood Campus has four Pride leaders, similar to counselors, one for each grade level -- and they all have a background in social work. Each Pride leader teaches four to six daily classes of about 20 students, and each Pride is named after one of their core values: relentlessness, integrity, solidarity, accountability, selflessness, and resilience.

Students stay with the same Pride leader throughout all four years of high school, creating a consistent relationship and support person that they can count on.

"We're the one person in the building that will remain consistent from freshman year until graduation that will know about their familial situations and the challenges that they've had academically," says Marcus Moore, an Urban Prep, Englewood Campus, 10th-grade Pride leader. "Research indicates that relationships are a key factor in helping young men be successful in school because they feel that they have someone in the building that they can trust, that they can go to, and who will advocate for them."

"Going to Pride every day does something for me that no academic class can do," says Deveon, a 12th-grade Urban Prep, Englewood Campus student. “It's like a second home to come in and be able to talk about anything so I don't have to hold things in all day long.”

Create a Pride Curriculum

In past years, Pride was more like a free period, similar to a study hall. This year, the staff has created a framework of topics to help guide their weekly lesson plans.

"We developed a framework, and we're building the curriculum this year as we go along," explains Moore. Urban Prep, Englewood Campus is part of a network of three schools, Urban Prep Academies, and Pride leaders from all campuses meet by grade level to develop their curriculum.

"What we are identifying are evidence-based interventions that have been proven to work for other schools, but we've not found anything that specifically meets the needs of urban youth in an all-male school,” adds Moore. “That's what we're building right now."

Teachers meet periodically with their grade-level Pride leaders to discuss:

  • What did and didn't work well in their curriculum
  • What should be removed and added to the curriculum
  • Trends related to students’ current social and emotional struggles across all three campuses
  • Strategies for engaging students in personal and difficult conversations
  • Ways to partner with outside agencies to strengthen the Pride program

When developing curriculum, teachers focus on the specific needs that affect their students. "We understand that students need math, science, and English, but when you come from environments that lack resources, that lack opportunities, that have a lot of crime, and when your students deal with a lot of trauma, they also need skills to navigate that,” explains Moore. “It's difficult to ask a young man to sit and focus in a biology class or a chemistry class if they're hungry, if they're worried about where their mom is, or if they're worried about coming to and from school when they have to cross gang lines.” The staff at Urban Prep looks at their students' experiences and needs, incorporating them into their Pride curriculum to help these young men better navigate their situations in and outside of school.

Create Weekly Lessons That Speak to Your Students' Needs

Each grade level has a different Pride theme broken down by weekly lessons in their curriculum map (PDF):

Each week, the lessons focus on a new theme, such as organization, decision-making skills, self-esteem, stress management, and racism.

Initiate Difficult Discussions Through Engaging Activities

Urban Prep engages their students in discussing difficult topics through activities that create a safe space for sharing their feelings.

In Moore's 10th-grade Pride class, at the end of the stress management unit, he asks his students to write down one thing they learned about stress from the week's discussion -- without signing their names. His students share things like:

"I've learned that stress affects your sleep schedule and how much you eat a day."
"One thing I learned is that I should be able to feel good about myself in order to prevent stress. I believe that I haven't felt good about myself in such a long time, and I think that is a problem for me."

To get rid of their stress, students stand up, crumple their paper into a ball, and throw it. Everyone then picks up a ball and takes a turn reading what an anonymous classmate wrote. "We're able to have fun, laugh, and be loud so we can actually have that discussion about stress," says Moore.

Create Discussion Questions for Each Class

Each class includes an essential question, a do-now, and an exit ticket. The essential question is broad and related to the week’s theme. Gregory Sashington, an Urban Prep, Englewood Campus Pride leader, alumni, and assistant dean, offers an example question: "Why are we angry? Why, as black men, are we mad?"

The do-now is more specific and helps students to think critically, says Sashington, giving this example: "'What angers you about society?' And then the exit ticket would be, ‘Can you admit that you’ve been hurt? If so, how?’ The exit ticket causes them to reflect. It causes them to think back on their own lives."

To get his students comfortable with sharing their experiences and feelings, Sashington shares his personal experiences with his students: "Many of you all know that I had a brother that passed in February due to gun violence. I had to make a decision. Do I make this anger constructive or destructive?"

Be Real With Your Students

To get your students to a place where they feel comfortable opening up to you and to the class, you need to be open and real with them. "I'm not afraid to be open. I'm not afraid to speak out my emotions or things that I've dealt with, things that I've had trouble with, things I couldn't quite figure out," says Sashington.

By modelling that you’re OK with experiencing and sharing your emotions, you show your students that it's OK to do the same. "It wasn't like this since the first day of class,” observes Sashington, “but because I continue to be steady and consistent with this, they're now opening up, and I'm seeing the progress.”

"If we really care about academic development, we have to care about social and emotional development," states Lionel Allen, Urban Prep Academies' chief academic officer. ”You can't have one without the other. Our students, through our Pride program, and through the fact that we provide them with those noncognitive skills, they're able to apply to college, be accepted, and once they get there, they persist.”

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Pat Gary's picture

Sounds like a program that could be adapted to most high schools. How many students are in each group? How many professional facilators? How do you replace the professionals who leave the school within the four year cycle?

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