This year, Lower School Faculty participated in training sessions on the Responsive Classroom® Approach to teaching and learning. The Responsive Classroom® is an approach to learning that encompasses both academic and social/emotional work in schools. Spread out over the year, faculty spent four intensive sessions learning the core classroom practices at the heart of Responsive® Classroom with Cheryl Ollman, Consulting Teacher at the Center for Responsive Schools. Ollman also spent a day observing and sharing feedback with teachers to provide data that will help teachers continue to grow in this practice. “Because of its emphasis on helping students build academic and social competencies day in and day out, the Responsive Classroom® approach resonates not only with us here in the Lower School, but also with the aspirations set forth in the 2015-2022 MICDS Strategic Plan,” said Janet McMillion, Head of Lower School.
What does the Responsive® Classroom Approach look like in our Lower School? At its core is asking children to articulate their hopes and dreams as a means to setting goals. The core classroom practices call for academic choice to help students become independent learners, interactive learning structures that offer purposeful activities; logical, non-punitive responses to misbehavior; interactive modeling for teaching procedures and routines; and the use of professional “teacher language” – words, phrases, tone and pace to enable students to engage in their learning and develop both academic and social-emotional skills.
JK Homeroom Teacher, Ginny Otto, offered this reflection on how the Responsive Classroom® training has impacted teaching and learning in the Lower School: “It feels like the Lower School is more unified and connected. As teachers, we are using common language and techniques across grade levels and between homerooms and specialist classes. The children benefit from this consistency, and it allows us to build a stronger sense of community. In addition, the Responsive Classroom® training has helped us sharpen our focus on teaching our students to be respectful and responsible as learners and as citizens. These concepts are central to the Responsive Classroom® approach and guide us as we think about preparing our students to be critical thinkers who embrace all the world’s people with compassion.”