Meet the Makers of Our Middle School Program | By: Joan Cole Duffell One thing we can all count on where middle school kids are concerned: That which was cool yesterday is just so done today. Thus sets off the challenge of creating relevant, engaging, and effective teaching tools that focus on the thing teens care about most: their social lives. This is precisely the challenge our outstanding Second Step Middle School research and development team rose to in designing the super cool, all-digital Second Step program. I couldn’t be prouder of the work this team has done to create such a breakthrough curriculum to support educators, parents, and students in developing social-emotional competencies. Why did we revise the Second Step Middle School curriculum? Teen culture waits for no one—especially not publishers of educational programs. The same can be said about the growing body of research highlighting the prime opportunity we have to profoundly influence the hearts and minds of young people in their middle school years. The research on social-emotional learning (SEL) in adolescence has evolved rapidly over the last ten years, and we wanted to bring these key findings into the Second Step program. Our teams took lessons learned from prior Second Step studies, while also gleaning knowledge from the latest research in key areas such as growth mindset, supporting goal achievement, and of course, the core SEL skill areas of emotion management, social problem solving, and responsible decision making. We kept in front of us our “prime directive”: to create a highly effective program while keeping the design simple, fun, and engaging for teachers and students alike—as well as easy to implement with fidelity to program design. The team put a special focus on the roles of administrators, counselors, and parents in supporting children’s SEL development at this critically important stage. The digital tools that undergird the program are part of our “effective but deceptively simple” secret sauce. The deep research and program design, done in partnership with top experts; intensive pilot testing of the program; and development and testing of the digital platform and interface, turned into a multi-year, exhaustive effort—and I can only say how very worth the incredible effort this program has turned out to be. I hope you take time to look through the demos and reach out to our fantastic client relations staff to learn more about how you can bring the Second Step Middle School program to your school community.