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.
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.
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.
- 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:
- Greeting: Students and teachers greet one other by name.
- Sharing: Students share information about important events in their lives. Listeners often offer empathetic comments or ask clarifying questions.
- 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).
- 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.