In the Responsive Classroom, teachers pay close attention during the first six weeks of school to proactively set children up for success. They use the Responsive Classroom practices such as interactive modeling to teach and practice academic and social-emotional skills along with routines and procedures. They use their language effectively to reinforce, remind and redirect as students learn expectations and parameters of their behavior within the context of the classroom community. By the start of November, the positive classroom community is buzzing with productive and engaging academics that are effectively managed by the teacher who keeps their eye on developmentally appropriate practices.
“Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach” is a guiding principle for the Responsive Classroom. The beginning of November is a good time for a teacher to take a moment to formatively assess how well they know their students. I often encourage teachers to do an activity developed by Donald Graves, who many people know as the “writing guru”. His activity would be perfect at this point in the year to see how well you know your students and supply data as to who still needs to be known. Here is an article that explains this great activity you can do with your classroom of students now. “How Well Do You Know Your Students” by the Center for Responsive Schools: Click Here for Full Article
It is so important for educators to know that knowing the children we teach is so important. Relationship, relationship, relationship is key to the success in the classroom. As Rita Pierson says in her famous TEDTalk video, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” We need to know our students deeply and understand their lives outside the walls of the school and find empathy for them. As mentioned in a previous 3 part blog I wrote regarding “Trauma in the Souls of our Classrooms”, according to Paul Tough, author of Helping Children Succeed, 1 in 4 students come to us with trauma in their life. Some come daily. If we don’t have relationship with these student and empathize with them, they are not in the neurological space for learning. They need to be cared for and feel safe to take risks in their learning, knowing that there is an adult that understands them and wants the best for them. In her article “Am I Building a Relationship with Every Student?” Adrienne Quinn writes, “I have a firm belief that no real teaching can happen without real relationships.” The picture included in this blog are questions Quinn says we need to ask ourselves who work with children. Read Quinn’s Full Article Here
In the responsive classroom, even though the first six weeks of setting the stage for success for all students in behind us, these questions Quinn suggests are embedded in our RC practice. Every day starts with the morning meeting to anticipate the fun of learning together. The rules we created together during the first six weeks still is the anchor to all we do in our classroom. Energizers, interactive learning structures, quiet time, and academic choices all continue to engage us to be active and interactive learners as we continue to build relationship with one another. We use practices such as interactive modeling and guided discovery to provide the positive visual for skills, material use, and routines and procedures we use in our classroom every day that bring our democratic rules to life. We take the time at the end of the day to reflect on all the great things we learned that day and to celebrate another day together. (A class chant from a closing circle video: “The time has come, to say good-bye, we’ve learned a lot today. Some of us will go, and some of us will stay, but we will all be together again tomorrow. To work! To Have Fun! And be in our classroom community.”)
Taking the time to slow down the day and making connections with kids is so needed in today’s classrooms. As Rita Pierson says, “Every kid needs a champion!” As I watched this video again, I was taken by a quote Pierson says if children hear often enough it will become part of who they are.
“I am somebody.
I was somebody when I came here.
I will be a better somebody when I leave.
I am powerful and I am strong.
I deserve the education that I get here.
I have things to do, people to impress and places to go.”
I was thinking I might add, “…and we can do this together with kindness and friendship.” A teacher might be the only adult in a child’s life that might help them know and feel cared for and loved. Oprah Winfrey once asked a great question that I make it a point every time I am in the presence of children, “When a child walks into a room, does your face light up?” When you have true relationship, I know it does!
- Rita Pierson TedTalk Video “Every Kids Needs a Champion” on the importance of relationship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFnMTHhKdkw
- Peter Tough Helping Children Succeed http://paultough.com/helping/web/
My Former blog: “Trauma in the Souls of our Classrooms”
- Part 1: https://ocmbocesis.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/ocm-boces-responsive-classroom-blog-trauma-in-the-souls-of-our-classrooms-part-1-of-3/
- Part 2: https://ocmbocesis.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/ocm-boces-responsive-classroom-blog-trauma-in-the-souls-of-our-classrooms-deeper-learning-part-2-of-3/
- Part 3: https://ocmbocesis.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/ocm-boces-responsive-classroom-blog-trauma-in-the-souls-of-our-classrooms-part-3-of-3/