Are you familiar with a responsive website? Those are the ones that look a little bit different whether you’re visiting them from your phone, your tablet, or your laptop. Even though they deliver the same content, the shape this process takes seamlessly adapts to meet the needs of each specific viewer’s device. The result is effective websites with higher views, engagements, and satisfied users.
Similarly, a responsive classroom adapts to meet the unique needs of the specific students within it, and the key to doing this is creating a social foundation of responsiveness. As a result, each classroom is structured to be a community within which the students and teacher(s) prioritize understanding each other, as well as treating one another with empathy and mutual respect.
While building a social foundation for learning has long been viewed as ancillary to providing rigorous academic instruction, increasing evidence shows that it’s actually necessary in order for academic instruction to land.
When a classroom functions as a community, teachers get a sense for how to effectively meet their students where they authentically are. Likewise, students who feel “seen” have a higher motivation to learn, as well as a higher likelihood of actively engaging with lessons and asking the type of questions that drive meaningful instruction.
So, how can you build a responsive classroom?
EWL’s ResourceHQ contains multiple resources that facilitate social emotional learning. However, the best program for creating a responsive classroom is the aptly named Responsive Classroom.
As a program, Responsive Classroom provides individual teachers with printable resources, articles, and webinars designed to help them deliver existing curriculum in a responsive way. Additionally, the program offers continuing education workshops and consultations to administrators interested in cultivating a culture of responsiveness throughout an entire school system.
While you may implement Responsive Classroom in a variety of ways, four key practices will always drive your instruction. These are:
The morning meeting
A proactive approach to discipline
Positive teacher language
Giving students choices in their learning
Within the past year, Responsive Classroom has also added resources specific to helping teachers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown its collection of resources specifically designed to facilitate classroom diversity, equity, and inclusion--often in ways that support teachers in exploring their own biases.
According to Dr. Karen Casto, former principal of Penn Valley Elementary School, in Levittown, Pennsylvania, “discipline referrals began to go down, and our test scores began to go up,” with Responsive Classroom.
Bryan Grigg, a social worker with Hyde-Addison Elementary, in Washington, DC, explains, “For kids to be academically successful, they have to be strong socially.”
To access even more affordable, easy-to-use, and pedagogically sound resources for K-12 classrooms, link here, scroll down to search by subject area, and be sure to share.