OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Trauma in the Souls of our Classrooms – Part 1 of 3

As a certified trainer for the Responsive Classroom I have to take part in professional development each spring with the developers of the Responsive Classroom approach, the Center for Responsive Schools. This year we were given an academic choice (a Responsive Classroom practice) to delve deeper into either the topic of Equity or Childhood Adversity. I decided I was most interested in the topic of childhood adversity. Ironically, the Winter 2017 issue of neaToday was devoted to “Trauma: The Effects on Children and Learning.

Now upon completion of this professional development, I now feel all educators need to learn more about this topic because through my own research I discovered that the problem is bigger than we might think! According to an article called How Teachers Help Students Who’ve Survived Trauma (Lehey, 2014) from The Atlantic “One in every four students currently sitting in American classrooms have experienced a traumatic event.”  This statistic was startling to me and learned too this statistic is even higher in impoverished communities. Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Using Video to Deepen Classroom Practice

Recently I was lucky enough to attend professional develop for my own personal growth. Jim Knight spent two days with us around his book Instructional Coaching. Research suggests that PD is more successful when followed by instructional coaching. How often do we as educators follow professional development with instructional coaching to foster and guide higher levels of application of practices learned during a professional development experience? In the Responsive Classroom courses, teachers learn instructional practices that support building positive learning communities that are effectively managed and developmentally responsive to foster engaging academics every day for every child.   At the end of the training educators are encouraged to goal set for classroom application of their learning. Jim Knight discussed the importance of giving teachers choice regarding what and how they learn and have opportunity to reflect on professional learning. A memorable quote from Jim Knight was, “Part of your job is to get better at your job.” Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Great Ideas for December and the Holidays in the Classroom

Once Halloween hits, we sometimes start to feel like we lose our class until New Year!   But this time of year shouldn’t be stressful for our students or for classroom teachers. The Center for Responsive Schools has many ideas for making our classroom focused on learning right up to the long break in December. I have compiled some great articles that you can use to maintain the joyfulness and learning in your classroom during December.

Holiday Celebrations
Center for Responsive Schools -December 06, 2010 Continue reading

OCM-Responsive Classroom: Public Discipline Systems Need To Go!

In a Responsive Classroom, we believe that “discipline” should be associated with the positive (acts of learning) rather than the negative (punishing). We believe we need to set children in our classroom up for success by providing direct instruction and guided practice in pro-social and academic skills. We use many proactive strategies such as interactive modeling, role-play, morning meeting, positive teacher language, democratic rule creation, interactive learning structures, guided discoveries, academic choice, energizers, closing circles, and others.   These teaching practices develop positive learning communities that are developmentally responsive and effectively managed so that engaging academics can flourish.  Responsive Classroom teachers spend a majority of their time and energy in the proactive side of discipline. (Being proactive is one of the habits of highly effective people, according to author Steven Covey). When we respond to misbehavior and are reactive Continue reading

Use the summer to plan your first six weeks

I feel the best gift you can give yourself is to use some time over the summer to either plan on your own or get together with your grade level colleagues to plan out your first six weeks of school. This old favorite has been majorly revised to fit today’s busy classrooms. Beautiful and in full color! There are ideas K-2, 3-4, and 5-6 for the first day of school. Sample schedules to help your plan to make that first day a smooth transition into the school year. Then learn how to apply all you learned during your Responsive Classroom training to the first six weeks. This is the perfect resource to help your apply all you learned.

Watch children’s learning blossom all year long when you lay the groundwork with the help of this classic, comprehensive guidebook for K–6 teachers. Day by day and week by Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: “Surviving the Late-Spring Jitters” – A reprise

I have been a Responsive Classroom® trainer since 2003. Back when I first started training, participants received the “Responsive Classroom Guidelines” (©96,97 by Northeast Foundation for Children – 8th printing April 2001). Since that time, the Responsive Classroom training has been revised and training materials changed. The Northeast Foundation for Children has also changed their name to The Center for Responsive Schools since the time of when we used the “Responsive Classroom Guidelines”.

Each year, I find myself thinking about a memorable article that was included in the old training materials called “Surviving the Late-Spring Jitters”. This article is out of print and no longer available online anywhere that I can find. I feel there were many helpful tips that teachers may find useful, especially now, as they put closer to their school year.

In the late spring many teachers will report to me that they are seeing more children beginning to test behavioral limits almost like they did the first few weeks of school. Teachers may feel a sense of frustration but the article encourages teachers,

“don’t despair and, most importantly, don’t give up! This is a phenomenon that occurs every year, in every classroom to some degree, without fail. It’s called “end-of-the-year-anxiety” or “the late-spring jitters.” Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Administrators Can Use Responsive Classroom Practices School-Wide

My work this year has given me the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time in the East Syracuse-Minoa School district. Recently, I was spending my day at Park Hill Pre-K where I had the honor to be part of the Principal, Carol Feldmeier’s Whole-School morning meeting. Mrs. Feldmeier had recently attended the 4-day Responsive Classroom Course that was offered here at OCM BOCES and was already applying all she learned throughout her building as an administrator. We encourage everyone from a school, especially principals, to come to the RCC (the Responsive Classroom Course) training. There is always time given to participants to reflect how they could use the Responsive Classroom practices they are learning about in their role or setting.

A beautiful crafted morning message, written by Mrs. Feldmeier greeted her students as they filed in and followed the school rules for entering the gymnasium. There was a murmur of excitement as these adorable 4 and 5 year olds entered. A school-wide quiet signal was used to gain attention and I watched as they reminded each other what to do when they hear and see the signal.

Mrs. Feldmeier greeted her children with a warm smile and encouraged them to take a moment to say good morning to the friends on each side of them. Mrs. Feldmeier uses her whole-school meeting as a way to focus on the teaching of social-emotional skills that are important to create a safe, challenging and fun school like Park Hill.

Today’s focus was teaching children voice levels to use in the classroom and throughout the school. The teachers from Park Hill took part in the teaching. Mrs. Feldmeier discussed the differences of the 4 levels of voice and gave purpose as to when they should be used. For example a level “0” voice is used when there is no talking such as during fire drills or during quiet reading time. A level 4 voice would be the voice we use on the playground or maybe when we are asked a question in a large room like the gym.  She used the interactive modeling practice of Responsive Classroom to model for the children what each sounded like and invited them to offer “what they noticed” about each model. She gave them an opportunity to practice the levels with their elbow partners.

Once modeling, practice and discussion was completed, a few fun songs were sung as a whole school focused on a themed letter they were all learning about. As I sat there I was struck by how much joy and laughter was happening in this room. There was energy of warmth and welcoming to all. Everyone felt noticed and valued. I thought how I wish every principal would take the opportunity to spend this time at least once a week or even once a month with all the students in their building. It truly builds such a feeling of true community.

Later, I sat with the teacher at lunch in the teachers’ room and noticed that Mrs. Feldmeier also had morning messages to her teachers hanging around the room. She discovered during her RCC training the importance the morning message is to not only greet and welcome the children in her school, but also her teachers and the adult community in the school.

Often, there is a misunderstanding that the Responsive Classroom practices are only for classroom teachers, but we learn that these practices are just as important to build the adult community and can be used by the school principal.

In a July 2014 Center for Responsive Schools Newsletter, Suzie Cook offers “11 Tips for Successful School-Wide Gatherings”( Click to read whole article )

Tips for Great School Gatherings

  1. Assemble a Planning Team
  1. Choose a Reasonable Gathering Size
  1. Decide on a Schedule
  1. Establish Traditions
  1. Focus on Clear Connections to Academics
  1. Use a Familiar, Simple Format
  1. Balance Familiar and New
  1. Provide Ample Time to Prepare
  1. Prepare Students Through Modeling and Practice
  1. Provide Procedures for Entering and Leaving the Gathering Space
  1. Follow Up with Reflection

Shaw_PatrickPatrick Shaw
OCM BOCES – Staff Development Specialist
Certified Responsive Classroom® Trainer by the Center for Responsive Schools (Developers of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning)