The Responsive Classroom is an approach to elementary teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community. The goal is to enable optimal student learning. Responsive Classroom approach is based on the premise that children learn best when they have both academic and social-emotional skills. The approach therefore consists of classroom and school wide practices for deliberately helping children build academic and social-emotional competencies.
Seven principles, informed by the work of educational theorists and the experiences of exemplary classroom teachers, guide the Responsive Classroom approach:
- The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
- How children learn is as important as what they learn: Process and content go hand in hand.
- The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- To be successful academically and socially, children need a set of social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
- Knowing the children we teach-individually, culturally, and developmentally-is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing the families of the children we teach and working with them as partners is essential to children's education.
- How the adults at school work together is as important as their individual competence: Lasting change begins with the adult community.
At the heart of the Responsive Classroom approach are ten classroom practices:
- 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