Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming Obstacles offers a customizable life skills curriculum designed for grades K–12, with topics appropriate to adult learners and those transitioning to careers and further education.

What This Includes

Skill addressed: Communication, Decision Making, Goal Setting, Conflict Resolution, Goal Setting, Work Ethic, Empathy, Self-management

Curriculum resources

  • High school-level curricula, with fourteen modules addressing essential skills, such as communicating effectively, making decisions, solving problems, and on-the-job skills, with downloadable activity sheets for learners and teacher guidance for each lesson
  • Website available in Spanish and some worksheets available in multiple languages
  • My Overcoming Obstacles online platform with a personal dashboard offers the option to customize the Overcoming Obstacles lessons, save customized materials, and share them with an online community

Practitioner and program support

  • Training resources include Overcoming Obstacles Train-the-Trainer guides for in-house training
  • Standards and alignment resources include alignment to CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) Core SEL (Social–Emotional Learning) Competencies, American School Counselor Association Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success, Common Core State Standards, and others
  • Handbooks and resources include Life Skills Lessons for Remote Learning, with high school research and reflection lessons to do at home, peer mentoring guides, bullying and addiction lessons, and parent resources in English and Spanish

Key Takeaways

  • Instructors can use the My Overcoming Obstacles platform to customize lessons for their adult and older youth learners and save them to their dashboard. Users can also share their lessons with the learning community.
  • Lesson modules introduce each personal and workplace success skill through an activity or relatable anecdote. Learners are prompted to apply the skill to their personal lives, followed by a reflection prompt.
  • Lesson extensions include journal entries, research projects, and developing technology skills.
  • Lesson modules are stand-alone and can be taught in any order and used in a variety of settings, including counseling sessions and peer mentoring activities, or integrated into a core curriculum.
  • Although originally designed for in-person learning, most of the lessons could be used in a remote or blended classroom setting with some adaptation.

Overcoming Obstacles is a nonprofit organization that offers its curriculum and other materials for free. The curriculum was developed to address the life skills education recommended by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) report. Since its first use in South Central Los Angeles in the 1990s, educators in all 50 states and 170 countries have used the curriculum. New York City introduced the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program to all its 850 public middle and high schools in 2010 and more than 700 schools were still implementing Overcoming Obstacles after seven years.


Critical & Creative Thinking

Emotional Intelligence

Leadership & Initiative


Teamwork & Collaboration

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