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3.10.2018 | Randi Kearney, Katelyn Patterson and Tressa Wyner

HundrED Class of 2018: Assessment Becomes Socio-Emotional Friendly At MUSE School

We catch up with our 100 selected innovations of 2018 to see what they've been up to over the last year. Find out how MUSE School are updating their innovative assessment model to recognize the importance of building socio-emotional skills!

MUSE School were selected for HundrED 2018 for their innovative assessment method, BLUEPRINTS (check them out here). Being the true education enthusiasts they are, the team at MUSE have continued to improve their assessment model, to make sure that children’s socio-emotional skills are being successfully assessed and improved too.

It can be difficult to assess socio-emotional skills, but these are often the skillsets that will help children to effectively deal with their relationships, stressful situations and can help to improve their academic success. MUSE School are continuing to develop their holistic system of assessing their students through their BLUEPRINTS programme, to make sure it encompasses all of these skillsets.

Want to know how to effectively build these skills in children, and know how to holistically assess them too? We heard from MUSE School, how they’re managing to do it...


Authored by MUSE School Teachers, Randi Kearney, Katelyn Patterson and Tressa Wyner

At MUSE, we define self-efficacy as the belief that one is capable of being successful in performing a task or managing a situation using openness, resourcefulness, and persistence to achieve a specific outcome. As a quote often attributed to Henry Ford says, “Whether you think that you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.” A child with high self-efficacy believes they have the skills to help them steer through life and reach their goals, but even more importantly, self-efficacy is about learning how to persevere when one encounters failure or hardship.

MUSE School teachers encourage goal setting and challenging negative thoughts, and aim to provide opportunities that celebrate the process instead of rescuing students experiencing difficulty, or simply celebrating the end product. Students at MUSE use ORP – openness, resourcefulness and persistence – and are empowered to take ownership over their learning, environment and social interactions. ORP is taught to all students at MUSE, beginning with our youngest at 2-years-old to the graduating seniors embarking on their adult life.

We realized that self-efficacy was a crucial part of our day, but it was challenging to concretely monitor and measure it in students—social awareness, stress and conflict management, appropriate decision making, interpersonal behavior, attitude, and relationship building can be more abstract than how a student is performing in math or literacy. It is one thing to acknowledge the value of these social and emotional skills, and another thing to actually integrate and assess these non-academic behaviors into the curriculum and into our narrative reporting. This is how we came to revisit The Blueprint for the 2018-2019 school year. Our goal was to further acknowledge and better understand our student’s individual development and growth.

Self-efficacy in Early Childhood Teaches Children To Come Up With Their Own Solutions

It’s no secret that these young learners can be impulsive, have temperamental natures, and can sometimes be downright stubborn when attempting to get what they want. Encouraging students to work collaboratively or think creatively to solve their own problems takes center stage as teachers support students through their daily routines in the classroom.

One 4 year-old student in the Early Kindergarten classroom seemed to be having an especially hard time navigating how to play with her peers during free play time. She was eager to join in dramatic play activities, but would quickly become frustrated when the storyline didn’t follow exactly what she had in mind. She would quickly melt down into tears and run to the teacher with recounts of her troubles; “I want to be the Mommy, but Ella says she’s the Mommy already and she won’t let me be it too!”

It was important, as her teacher, that I support her through these conflicts. However, I still wanted to encourage her growth in self-efficacy. In order to empower her to begin to lean more towards solution-oriented resolutions, we reverted to our MUSE philosophy of encouraging our students to be ORP (Open, Resourceful, and Persistent.) I began challenging her to find solutions using this language. I would ask, “I understand that you really want to be the Mommy in this game. Could you be open to playing another character for a while and then switching after 5 minutes?”

Watching the pride they have in themselves when they come up with a clever solution to their problems is far more rewarding than forcing compromises or avoiding conflict through separation!

In other conflicts, I would encourage the student to be resourceful to find solutions for her problems. For example: Student: “I want to be a magic fairy, but Sarah is playing with the fairy wand right now!” Teacher: “I understand that is probably frustrating. I wonder if we could be resourceful and look around the room to find things we could build our own fairy wand with!” Student: “I could glue some popsicle sticks together and color them?”

Lastly, I would encourage my student to be persistent in asking for exactly what she wanted. Sometimes persistence comes in having the patience to wait her turn if what she desired wasn’t readily available.

Although it would be easy for me to solve problems by placing myself in the middle of a conflict and forcing a compromise between two students, very little is gained in terms of the students’ social-emotional growth. By equipping them with the tools necessary to be self-efficacious by using their ability to be open, resourceful, and persistent, students gain a sense of power over their own interactions.

Watching the pride they have in themselves when they come up with a clever solution to their problems is far more rewarding than forcing compromises or avoiding conflict through separation!

Elementary Level Self-efficacy Builds Compassion and Communication Skills

The Compassionate Confrontation is a tool that all MUSE students, aged 2 to 18 years, utilize when sharing feelings, thoughts and beliefs with parents, teachers and peers. The compassionate confrontation script reads:


In the elementary department, the compassionate confrontation allows students to check-in with one another with confidence. A miscommunication on the playground, a perceived unkind comment or uncomfortable interaction can be addressed in a way that both the child sharing and the child receiving can feel heard and respond healthily.

It is important to note that there does not have to be a response to a compassionate confrontation. The goal is to encourage healthy sharing when a student feels wronged, and often you find that understanding that person’s perspective is all that is needed to resolve conflict!

The compassionate confrontation gives the members of our community a consistent, strong voice to share their feelings with others and allow others to respond in a healthy way that leads to a better environment for everyone.

One day at recess, I was approached by a frustrated student that felt excluded by older students on the soccer field. This student had set goals for himself to work on his soccer skills each day during recess, but felt he was unable to learn and work on his goals because he felt he never received the ball during games. During our MUSORY, a time in which students focus on self-efficacy and PCM skills each day, I encouraged the student to use the compassionate confrontation to explain to his older classmates how he felt. The student independently emailed the other students and invited them to sit down for a compassionate confrontation. My student used the script he had learned and was able to explain to his classmates why he was hurt without allowing heavy emotions to color the conversation. They were able to come to a shared agreement on times in which the older students would play their games, and other times in which the younger kids played so that all students were able to play in games at their own skill level.

This student used compassionate confrontation perfectly. After deciding to confront his classmates, he used the script to write down everything he wanted to say in order to prevent an emotional response. We encourage students and adults alike to write their script in order to have a strong foundation for a conversation and prevent ‘emotional freestyling’ that may happen without a plan. This also allows students the opportunity to focus on why they are actually upset. For my student, this meant chiseling down his complaints to a single identifiable issue (“Soccer field time is not fairly divided”) rather than simply complaining “I’m not getting to play.” The older students previously felt that he was getting to play, but did not understand how and why he felt excluded until the compassionate confrontation.

The compassionate confrontation has revolutionized conflict resolution at MUSE School. Our students use the compassionate confrontation script with each other as well as with their teachers, and even teachers themselves can use the script amongst their colleagues, administrators, and with parents! The compassionate confrontation gives the members of our community a consistent, strong voice to share their feelings with others and allow others to respond in a healthy way that leads to a better environment for everyone.

Self-efficacy At High School Is All About Responsibility

At High School level, self-efficacy comes down to taking responsibility. We often can’t control our surroundings or how other people react, we can, however, feel empowered through recognizing what steps we can personally take. Middle school and High school students are held accountable for their actions and encouraged to take responsibility rather than shifting the blame onto their teachers, their parents, or their peers; learning that the only thing we can control is ourselves.

For example, recently I had a student enter my room and give every reason in the book as to why he didn’t finish his exit problems in math. With eight more minutes until lunch, his face was full of blame and he was making it clear that this was my problem, not his problem. I acknowledged his frustrations and said, “So tell me what you can do to make this happen and still be on time for lunch.” He admitted that he was wasting a lot of time and that he never actually asked for my help, followed by the magic words, “will you help me now?” I helped him, he chose to stay back a few minutes until he was done, and there was no power struggle because I was able to help him recognize his own responsibility in the situation and take charge.

It’s not realistic to think we will never fail. Instead, we recognize that perseverance is what matters most.

MUSE teens consistently discuss what it means to have a ‘growth mindset’ as they come to understand that 'failure' is a part of the progress. It’s not realistic to think we will never fail. Instead, we recognize that perseverance is what matters most. Teachers look at how a student arrived at an answer and praise the process, the thinking, and the strategies demonstrated. Even if mistakes are made, allowing students to find their own errors and use their own intuition is part of the learning process.

Soon, students learn to think, “Hmm, I wonder why that didn't work” as opposed to thinking, "I'm a failure." When the emphasis is placed on the process, rather than the individual, it is much easier to pick yourself up and try again. This is what we mean by forward failing, rather than backward failing.

Through daily reminders to be Open, Resourceful and Persistent, all students at MUSE are gaining control over their own self-efficacy. Supporting students through compassionate confrontations, allowing them a safe space to fail forward, and encouraging creative thinking for solving problems are all ways self-efficacy is thriving in the MUSE classroom. Through our creation of clear and measurable self-efficacy milestones, both students and parents alike are gaining a better understanding of how children are growing their social-emotional skills.