• The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is comprised of a set of well-designed practices intended to create safe, joyful, and engaging classroom and school communities. The emphasis is on helping students develop their academic, social, and emotional skills in a learning environment that is developmentally responsive to their strengths and needs.

    Core Belief:

    In order to be successful in and out of school, students need to learn a set of social and emotional competencies—cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control—and a set of academic competencies—academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors.

    Guiding Principles:

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

    • Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
    • How we teach is as important as what we teach.
    • Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
    • How we work together as adults to cre­ate a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
    • What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expec­tations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
    • Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.

    Elementary Practices

    • Morning Meeting—Everyone in the classroom gathers in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes at the beginning of each school day and proceeds through four sequential components: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message.
    • Establishing Rules—Teacher and students work together to name individual goals for the year and establish rules that will help everyone reach those goals.
    • Energizers—Short, playful, whole-group activities that are used as breaks in lessons.
    • Quiet Time—A brief, purposeful and relaxed time of transition that takes place after lunch and recess, before the rest of the school day continues.
    • Closing Circle—A five- to ten-minute gathering at the end of the day that promotes reflection and celebration through participation in a brief activity or two.

    Morning Meeting: engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically. Each morning, students and teachers gather together in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes and interact with one another during four purposeful components:

    1. Greeting:  Students and teachers greet one other by name.
    2. Sharing:  Students share information about important events in their lives. Listeners often offer empathetic comments or ask clarifying questions.
    3. Group Activity:  Everyone participates in a brief, lively activity that fosters group cohesion and helps students practice social and academic skills (for example, reciting a poem, dancing, singing, or playing a game).
    4. Morning Message:  Students read and interact with a short message written by their teacher. The message is crafted to help students focus on the work they’ll do in school that day.