Since 2018, UChicago Impact has partnered with Academic Approach and the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago to pilot The Undefeated Mind, a curriculum designed to strengthen students’ resilience. Based on a course taught by Dr. Alex Lickerman at the University of Chicago, Undefeated Minds endeavors to help students recognize their innate resilience through lessons on the physiology and research behind specific tools, and how and when students can use them. The goal of the curriculum is to reinforce resilience, reduce anxiety, and ultimately bolster students’ academic performance. In order to achieve these goals and support improved academic performance, Undefeated Minds focuses on academic adversity—whether that means doing poorly on a test or planning for the road to college—and how students can use the tools they have learned about to better plan for and weather those challenges.
During the 2018-2019 school year, students in three classes received instruction from a trained Academic Approach teacher during their advisory period. Based on this first year, the program was altered and expanded for the 2019-2020 school year to ensure that students receive the curriculum from their own advisory teacher—a person who works with students on a regular basis over several years, as opposed to a teacher they have less contact with or connection to over the course of their academic career. Our hope is that this new design will allow students to become more immersed in the ideas that underpin the curriculum.