Responsive Classroom

Our faculty and staff actively practice the Responsive Classroom philosophy.  This approach to classroom life and learning emphasizes an environment that builds social and academic skills.  The physical space in classrooms, morning meetings, and class and school rules are organized to facilitate opportunities for positive interaction.

Guiding Principles of the Responsive Classroom:

The Responsive Classroom approach is informed by the work of educational theorists and the experiences of exemplary classroom teachers. Seven principles guide this approach:

  1. The social and emotional curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
  2. How children learn is as important as what they learn.
  3. Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  4. To be successful academically and socially, children need to learn a set of social and emotional skills that include cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
  5. Knowing the children we teach—individually, culturally, and developmentally—is as important as knowing the content we teach.
  6. Knowing the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children we teach.
  7. How we, the adults at school, work together is as important as our individual competence: Lasting change begins with the adult community.

Components of the Responsive Classroom Model:  

These classroom practices are the heart of the Responsive Classroom approach:

  • Morning Meeting—gathering as a whole class each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead
  • Rule Creation—helping students create classroom rules to ensure an environment that allows all class members to meet their learning goals
  • Interactive Modeling—teaching children to notice and internalize expected behaviors through a unique modeling technique
  • Positive Teacher Language—using words and tone as a tool to promote children's active learning, sense of community, and self-discipline
  • Logical Consequences—responding to misbehavior in a way that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes while preserving their dignity
  • Guided Discovery—introducing classroom materials using a format that encourages independence, creativity, and responsibility
  • Academic Choice—increasing student learning by allowing students teacher-structured choices in their work
  • Classroom Organization—setting up the physical room in ways that encourage students’ independence, cooperation, and productivity
  • Working with Families—creating avenues for hearing parents' insights and helping them understand the school's teaching approaches
  • Collaborative Problem Solving—using conferencing, role playing, and other strategies to resolve problems with students

The First Six Weeks of School

The first six weeks of school are an essential time to build classroom and school communities.  Routines and expectations are set and an emphasis is put on how the class will work together as a community.  During this period, parents and visitors are discouraged from visiting classrooms as their presence can hinder this group development.  After this initial period, visitors are welcome to come into classrooms.