Responsive Classroom 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:

1. Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.

2. How we teach is as important as what we teach.

3. Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

4. How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual
contribution or competence.

5. What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expectations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.

6. Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.

Classroom Practices and Strategies

Responsive Classroom is an approach to teaching based on the belief that integrating academic and social-emotional skills creates an environment where students can do their best learning. The Responsive Classroom approach consists of a set of practices and strategies that build academic and social-emotional competencies. This approach works well with many other programs and can be introduced gradually into a teacher’s practice.

Shared Practices (K–8)

Interactive Modeling
An explicit practice for teaching procedures and routines (such as those for entering and exiting the room) as well as academic and social skills (such as engaging with the text or giving and accepting feedback).

Teacher Language
The intentional use of language to enable students to engage in their learning and develop the academic, social, and emotional skills they need to be successful in and out of school.

Logical Consequences
A non-punitive response to misbehavior that allows teachers to set clear limits and students to fix and learn from their mistakes while maintaining their dignity.

Interactive Learning Structures
Purposeful activities that give students opportunities to engage with content in active (hands-on) and interactive (social) ways.

Elementary Practices (K–6)

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.

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.

Middle School Practices (5–8)

Responsive Advisory Meeting
A routine that builds positive, meaningful relationships with caring adults and peers. Components: arrival welcome, announcements, acknowledgements, and activity.Investing Students in the Rules—Students collaborate to establish classroom expectations based on individual goals.

Brain Breaks
Short breaks in lessons used to increase focus, motivation, learning, and memory.

Active Teaching
A straightforward, developmentally appropriate strategy for delivering curriculum content. Components: teacher presentation, explanation, illustration, and demonstration.

Student Practice
Students explore and practice the content and skills taught during a lesson, under the teacher’s guidance.