As teachers begin to wind down and prepare for the summer, staff developers like myself begin to get busy. Before me is a busy summer attending the PBL World conference in Napa, California and the New Tech National Conference in New Orleans where I will be joining the new teachers and administrators from Innovation Tech, the school planned to open this fall in Liverpool, NY. On top of multiple sessions of PBL-101 this summer all around Central NY and our big PBLny Event, I will also be doing 3 week sessions of the newly revised Responsive Classroom® Course. My first session will be in New York City, an advertised institute by the Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC), developers of the Responsive Classroom approach to developing safe, joyful and challenging classrooms everyday for every child. My second institute will be in Watertown, NY where I will be doing work with the component districts of the Jeff-Lewis BOCES. My last session will be in late August for OCM BOCES in Syracuse, NY.
OCM BOCES has been a licensed agency with the NEFC to provide Responsive Classroom training since the early 90’s. We are very pleased that we just recently finalized our new 3 year contract with the NEFC and look forward to being able to continue the powerful work in Central NY. In the early days of OCM BOCES’ Responsive Classroom work, Lauri Bousquet, Sally Kitts and Mary Fitzgibbons were the staff developers who did this work around the state. In 2003 my passion for this work started as I was trained to be a certified trainer and take the place of the staff developers who preceded me. Since then I have trained over 85 groups in the Responsive Classroom Level 1 week-long. It is striking to me that I alone have trained more than 1000 teachers across the country in the Responsive Classroom approach. It makes me proud to think how many children have been affected by the transformational Responsive Classroom training I have done with their teachers.
The Northeast Foundation for Children has been doing work since 1981, but continue to reflect on practice and evolve over those 30 plus years. In 2008, Responsive Classroom 1 was revised and I personally was amazed by what I felt was already a very strong workshop was now even better. Shortly after, RC2 was revised and new one-day workshops were developed to support educator more deeply in the Responsive Classroom approach. Being a very progressive and reflective organization, the NEFC didn’t stop there, they continued to evolve and grow their reach by developing videos, writing more books on individual Responsive Classroom practices and expanded to social media platforms to support trained teachers and inspire others in the Responsive Classroom practices.
The evolution continues, this summer the 2008 Responsive Classroom 1 will be replaced with the newly developed Responsive Classroom Course. As I plan for my three sessions this summer, I am once again impressed and so excited at the newly revised workshop. Though the tried and true practices of Responsive Classroom are still in tact, the way it has been developed connects the practices with 21st Century classrooms and learners along with incorporating the Common Core. All the practices have been finely tuned to integrate the 3 Domains of effective instructional practice:
- Engaging Academics
- Effective Management
- Positive Community
We like to use the metaphor of a 3-legged stool when speaking of the 3 Domains. All the domains need to be present and functioning interdependently with one another to create a joyful and appropriately challenging classroom where children feel safe and cared for to be active and interactive in their learning. A positive community where there is a sense of relationship with their teacher and fellow students. A positive community where learning structures, routines, and social and emotional skills are taught to foster cooperation and independence in learning. When the 3 domains are present and functioning interdependently, children feel a sense of belonging and significance. When these basic human needs are met on a daily basis, research will suggest that academics sore and misbehavior decreases. I feel that is it so important that every child feels that it really matters that they showed up to school today. We as human beings all need that sense that we belong to something bigger than ourselves and that we are significant to our community. When a child feels supported they will be more apt to take risks in their learning and know that mistakes will be supported and seen as a place for growth and learning.
In conclusion, with the new learning and growth I have experience while preparing my three sessions of the New Responsive Classroom Course, I have become even more passionate with the work I doing in the Responsive Classroom. When an educator experiences learning of the Responsive Classroom approach in the context of a workshop that is designed around the 3 Domains of engaging academics, effective management and a positive community, they will leave with a new vision of their school, their role within that school, their classroom, their student and most importantly their own efficacy as a developer of engaging academic learning experiences. They will look at their curriculum in a whole new light as they bring the Common Core alive with active and interactive learning experiences for their students. They will also feel that sense of efficacy when it comes to managing their classroom more effectively. They will make no assumptions with their students and become more proactive as they purposefully teach the skills of classroom and school success. They will also leave the Responsive Classroom Course feeling efficacious as they develop their own positive community of learners. It is my hope that I will run into my RC blog readers in my travels over this summer of great learning and professional growth.
Certified Responsive Classroom® trainer through the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of theResponsive Classroom Staff Development Specialist – OCM BOCES – Syracuse, NY
(OCM BOCES is a licensed agency for Responsive Classroom training by the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of theResponsive Classroom) PShaw@ocmboces.org