our learning

Encouraging critical thinking while connecting to the world boys live in.

Our PROGRAM

Our program is based on the five pillars shown below, click to learn more about each.

Brain science
  • Early and often, students are taught about the functions and anatomy of the brain.
  • There is a focus on a “use it or lose it” technique — a daily practice of building long-lasting and healthy habits of mind 
  • Research-based models that apply important neuroscience techniques
  • Students learn healthy mental models that promote sound reasoning, thoughtful actions, and critical thinking
  • Students engage in our iterative SSB Learning Cycle during our problem-based activities and during independent assignments
  • Experiential learning focuses on creating new neural pathways to optimize learning and performance. Quoting neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb, “Cells that wire together, fire together”.
Equitable learning
  • Anti-racist teaching and learning
  • Teachers routinely engage in our Anti-Racist Challenge cycle to practice anti-racism daily
  • Pedagogy is culturally inclusive throughout all subjects
  • In problem-based learning, students study inequitable policies and systems of oppression, then work together to create solutions
Social and emotional development
  • Our partnership with One Love  focuses specifically on boys’ social and emotional development during the middle school years
  • We foster empathy, accountability, and openness. 
  • Curriculum is also utilized to support students through the rigors and challenges of the learning process
  • Each grade level has specific and measurable social and emotional growth goals
  • We eliminate labels and social stratification through routine student self-reflection and employ a narrative grading process
  • A warm and inclusive learning environment supported by our SSB B.R.A.V.E. Matrix
Experiential learning
  • Building the foundation for life-long learning  through our Bridges Program where collaborative skills become mutually rewarding between environments, cooperating organizations, and the public sector
  • Preparing our students for high school and beyond
Community engagement
  • Problem-based assignments directly connected with local organizations to give students real-world experiences
  • Engage with diverse environments to heighten intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness 

curriculum

Seattle School for Boys offers a balanced curriculum that prepares students for a variety of high school learning and social environments.

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Core Subjects

SSB’s qualified teachers ensure that our students are challenged in the standard core subjects of math, science, language arts and the humanities.

Students also choose electives that engage in the arts, such as music, visual art, dance (Massive Monkees Residency), martial arts, boxing, parkour, and other endeavors

b.me Series/SSB Curricular Framework

Unique to Seattle School for Boys is our b.me series/SSB Curricular Framework is a research-based framework designed specifically for middle school boys. The b.me Series/SSB Curricular Framework is the critical underpinning of our entire curricula’s scope and sequence and is woven into our institutional fabric. The b.me Series/SSB Curricular Framework enacts our mission, values, and is our primary vehicle for genuinely and authentically speaking to, guiding, and educating our students to be the best versions of themselves. b.me/SSB Curricular Framework provides common language used by all faculty and students to ensure continuity and transparency in our values. 

Implemented in *three to four thematic phases during the academic year, with each theme building off of one another throughout the three middle school years, the b.me Series/SSB Curricular Framework is part of daily life at SSB.

Integrated Learning

A key to the Seattle School for Boys curriculum is integrated learning. Beyond the homogenized curricula that lean toward the status quo and rather than simply tying various lesson plans together; our innovative and culturally competent teachers routinely collaborate to develop 21st-century cross-curricular assignments that help students discover new applications for their developing skills and knowledge. Authentic collaboration and a thorough understanding of the learning process are required to achieve desired outcomes.

Not only do our students gain a solid foundation in core competencies, but they also develop skills that will make them compassionate leaders and trusted team members. And all the while, our students stay engaged and interested in joyful learning!

GRADE SIX

In four thematic phases over the academic year, our 6th graders learn how the brain works, how it changes during the learning process, and how it is impacted by nutrition, exercise, sleep, environment, and stress. Moreover, students learn brain hacks to optimize their learning as middle school students.

The SSB Learning Cycle is introduced. Students explore concepts of self-awareness and self-expression, with routine opportunities for personal reflections, realizations, and revised thoughts. Developing self-awareness evolves into thoughts and feelings around interpersonal awareness, and the study of and integration with various cultures and communities while making time for authentic connections. The year culminates with keystone projects that allow each student to creatively share their collective learning experiences from the year and how it has prepared them for next year.

GRADE SEVEN

Building from the previous year, our 7th graders begin the year learning to move beyond stereotypes and social messages around unhealthy masculinity, instead focusing on positive character development and a thorough understanding of respect and empathy. The next phase helps our students practice resiliency, manage stress, and overcome adversity, while teaching them appropriate language when met with unfavorable outcomes and allowing them to move away from stratifying labels. The study covers their own and others’ culture and history, broadening students’ perspectives and helping to strengthen their intrinsic motivation and motivation and a sense of invested interest in the environment around them. Connecting character, resilience, and culture, our 7th graders close out the year by collectively setting goals to address the global challenges we face.

GRADE EIGHT

Growing from the seeds well planted and nourished in 6th and 7th grades, the 8th grade year has a strong outside focus. Students grasp the importance of wellbeing through the sense of belonging to a greater community, fostered by empathy and compassion, helping students to become adept at building and sustaining healthy relationships inside and outside of the classroom. 

As our students begin to think about high school, they strengthen their understanding of positive social circles, comparing and contrasting real-world versus virtual relationships. 

Additionally, students tackle serious societal issues, current events, designing solutions and partnering closely with community groups. The final year culminates with the concept of choice and sound decision-making. 8th graders reflect on their middle school experience and collectively create a legacy that celebrates healthy communication, a balanced confidence, and a genuine commitment to community. 

Assessments

Instead of sitting on the sidelines of their education, each SSB student takes an active role in the progress of their academic journey.

Core subjects are centered around critical thinking, checkpoints, and creative solutions, which include lots of binary, factual information. Plenty of quizzes and tests are administered to provide teachers with accurate assessments of learning that align with individualized student growth goals. For the benefit of our students, however, our teachers go beyond the quantifiable, carefully articulating in narrative form the skills mastered, concept understood, and outcomes achieved for each student. 

These narrative assessments are generated three times during the school year, following the culmination of each phase of the b.me Series/SSB Curricular Framework, with three mid-quarter check-ins between narrative assessments.

Connected with the three narrative assessments are student-led conferences. Each student prepares in advance for their conference, celebrating academic achievements, social and emotional growth, and intangible progress. Moreover, students weave their learning to mid-term and long-term goals. 

Friday Bridges Program

In the Bridges Program, SSB students go out into their city and region to connect, serve, and learn. Every Friday, mixed-grade groups of students and their teachers leave the classroom with the mutually beneficial goal of learning about themselves and serving their community. These interdisciplinary, real-world experiences are created to have students build on the skills of communication, collaboration, and leadership. The Bridges Program allows students to better understand the city and region they live in from multiple perspectives and with diverse lenses, while building relationships. 

The thinking behind the Bridges Program is simple: Students should not only experience their greater community during a final project or a special week at the end of the year. Genuine learning requires relevance and relationships. 

On Fridays, students walk, bike, and take public transportation to different corners of the city to read, write, connect, and build. Each program that the students participate in has been designed to further the mission of supporting healthy maturation in a community committed to working towards a more equitable and anti-racist world.

see a day in the life of an SSB sixth grader! >>

meet some of our graduates! >>

what we learn at ssb

SSB students learn to express themselves, challenge themselves, challenge stereotypes, learn from mistakes, care for others, and champion social justice.

With small classes, expert educators, and a caring community, SSB provides an innovative and rigorous interdisciplinary approach to the humanities, STEAM, math, and Spanish along with leadership opportunities, integrated arts, and movement classes including parkour, martial arts, yoga, and fitness. 

Keystone Projects

Toward the end of each quarter, the boys at SSB present interdisciplinary keystone projects to highlight acquired skills and showcase flexible levels of understanding.  The keystone projects are directly linked to service and are designed as the building block that solidifies the edifice of the learner’s work. 

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SSB’s keystone projects, presented towards the end of each quarter, are iterative models and reminds the learner that the work they begin is not a singular and isolated task. These projects remind boys that the work they produce is continual, collaborative, and open for revisions. While boys understand that their work connects to a larger community, they receive support and advice from experts in their respective competencies.

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Daily Schedule

Our interactive daily schedule is unified with our mission.  It contains research-based ingredients that support the overall development of a middle school boy.  Baked into the academic schedule is structured time for boys to strengthen their executive function along with structured time to foster social and emotional growth.

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To promote interdisciplinary teaching and experiential learning, boys have four rotating 65-minute periods every Monday, Tuesday,Thursday,and Friday.  We believe having fewer classes in a day maximizes deep learning opportunities and minimizes cognitive overload.  
This scheduling method aligns with the spacing effect, which states that students learn more effectively when they study content several times spaced out over a longer time span, rather than trying to learn it in short periods of time resulting in the habit of massed studying.  Moreover, the spacing effect makes the next study session more challenging. As a result, it helps to foster resilience and build knowledge that is both flexible and long-lasting. This healthy cognitive challenge is what Clark and Bjork coined as “desirable difficulty.”
Our interactive schedule also allows for a 1-hour lunch (30 minutes for nourishment and 30 minutes for extracurriculars) and 10-minute passing periods between core classes to boost healthy socialization with teachers and peers.
Each section of the day is designed to foster a holistic learning environment that recognizes each boy as a unique individual.  This interactive schedule has also been built to positively impact boys outside of the classroom.  Our enrichment periods during the week allow time for boys to complete assignments at school, which decreases the amount of homework each night.  At SSB, we want to encourage boys to explore their curiosities and develop a balance between extracurricular interests and academic passions as we believe this blend leads to the development of a healthy identity.

Technology

Our academic environment has built healthy communication structures that socialize boys into compassionate and intellectual individuals. We believe human interaction is key to building compassionate behaviors. This may seem obvious, but today teens have become more connected to their screens than their natural environment.
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Our academic environment has built healthy communication structures that socialize boys into compassionate and intellectual individuals for the twenty-first century.  We believe human interaction is key to building compassionate behaviors.  This may seem obvious, but in our growing technological world, teens have become more connected to their screens than their natural environment. The average teenager will check their phone about 150 times per day, which consumes about six minutes of every hour – creating a distance of in-person communication and a disorientation of community.  At SSB phones are stored away until the final bell and technology is used to acquire and extend academic knowledge.
Often times when technology is used in the classroom, the information gathered is mistakenly equated with knowledge because it provides facts and data.  At SSB we teach boys to transfer that information to their long-term memory, which then leads to critical thinking, actual knowledge, and original thoughts.  In short, we teach boys mental models such as “memory consolidation” when using technology.  We believe that technology should be used to minimize distractions and interruptions, allowing students to maximize creativity and enlightenment.  We want the boys at SSB to engage with technology in a way that supports their understanding of academic experiences, the facts they are learning, and the conversations they are having.

Transition Time & Organizational Support

Advisory groups and highlighted strategies intended to support organization and executive function.

Athletics & After School Activities

After school athletics programs rotating in fall (soccer), winter (basketball), and spring (ultimate). Physical education programs and movement with outside vendors throughout the school year, addressing both physical and psychological components.

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Affinity Groups

Discussions of various “isms” and social/emotional support and guidance.

Community Meetings

Weekly meetings of the entire school community, allowing for open communication, understanding of various perspectives, and opportunities to hone public speaking skills in a comfortable, supportive, organic environment.