Curriculum Alignment

How The Positivity Project Aligns with Michigan’s SEL Standards

By Melissa Killingbeck

At The Positivity Project, we often get questions from fellow educators about how well P2 aligns with Social Emotional Learning (SEL) standards.  Although each state has it’s own specific standards, as a former Michigan school principal, I will be focusing specifically on how P2 aligns with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) SEL standards (Alignment at a Glance).

The MDE has selected five specific standards (often referred to as SEL competencies) on which schools should focus SEL instruction. They are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. In a nutshell, grounded in the research of positive psychology, our model explicitly teaches students about the 24 character strengths, the Other People Mindset, and how to apply what they learn to their own lives.

We achieve this through a school-wide model, which includes daily 15-minute digital lessons, optional PBL units, and other tools, that fit perfectly into these five SEL competencies. Through a dual focus on character & relationships, P2 lessons empower America’s youth to build positive relationships and become their best selves (deliberately through lessons around the Other People Mindset and also through character strengths). Through P2 lessons, students learn to:

  • Recognize their own feelings, interests, strengths, and limitations (self-awareness)
  • How to regulate emotions and manage daily stressors (self-management)
  • Perspective-taking, empathy, and an appreciation of similarities and differences (social awareness)
  • Exhibit prosocial behavior and demonstrate positive social skills in order to develop meaningful relationships (relationship skills)
  • Make ethical decisions, and strengthen the ability to develop appropriate solutions to identified problems (responsible decision making)

The research surrounding SEL currently available on MDE’s website, summarily states that the most effective SEL processes should include several key factors. Below, are specific examples of how P2 also aligns with these key factors:

  • Tier I Approach- SEL should be considered a Tier I, universal approach to learning. P2 is structured to be Tier I, used with all students. We provide teachers with an engaging and impactful positive character education curriculum that only takes 15-minutes per day.  It is designed to help students to build the skill set of understanding and recognizing character strengths in themselves and others, as well as how to apply those skills to their own lives.  You can find a one-page overview here of what comes with an annual partnership.
  • Pre K-12– Research on SEL has shown that the process of learning social and emotional skills is most effective for students when implemented Pre K-12.  P2 includes daily 10-15 minute digital lesson plans via Google Drive that teach positive psychology’s 24 character strengths and the Other People Mindset.  All of these resources (including daily lessons translated in Spanish) are scaffolded to the individual grade level from Pre-K through 8th grade and two sets of resources for grades 9-12th.
  • Year-Round- SEL works best when it is taught throughout the school year. P2 utilizes a 32-week calendar that flows from September through May with a focus on one character strength per week and seven Other People Mindset lessons.  Additionally, there are 30+ additional grade-level differentiated Project Based Learning (PBL) units that can be used at any time throughout the school year for educators wishing to dive deeper.  Moreover, we are currently developing a semester-long high school course on Positive Psychology for 10th/11th graders, and a similar year-long version for the middle school level; both are on schedule for pilot during the 2020-2021 school year.  Click here to see how we compare to the Michigan Health Model. 
  • SEL is Key to Successful Relationships- Through SEL, students should learn about themselves and how to identify their strengths and weaknesses inside and outside of the classroom. The lessons of P2 are grounded in Positive Psychology and the Other People Matter mindset. Our mission is to empower America’s youth to build positive relationships and become their best selves. Everything we do — every lesson, project, and activity we offer, comes back to our mission of empowering students and supporting them in learning how to build positive relationships that last a lifetime.
  • Family Engagement- Family engagement is a key component of SEL. Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, P2 will now include P2 for Families (P2F2).  This companion resource for families intended to empower parents to support their students beyond the classroom, by providing a consistent message about social-emotional skills that students may need across varying contexts– school, home, and in their classroom.

Additional Resource:


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Melissa Killingbeck
P2 Curriculum Manager

Melissa Killingbeck is the Curriculum Manager for The Positivity Project and ensures our resources are at their highest quality. Melissa earned her bachelor's degree and teaching certificate in elementary education and holds a Master's in Education with certification in K-12 administration. Before joining the P2 team, Melissa was a successful P2 Partner School principal in Flushing, Michigan, where she worked for 25 years as a teacher, instructional coach, and principal. After retiring from public education in 2019, Melissa relocated to northern Michigan with her husband Casey and their Silver Lab, Tank. When not knee-deep in P2 resources, Melissa can be found rockhounding along a lakeshore, enjoying a boat ride with Casey and Tank, or "downstate" visiting their two grown children.