Teaching Children to Care

Written by Seth Pozzi, Asst. Head of School on .

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You may have heard about our new Responsive Classroom program. Our teachers and administration are excited to show you all the nuts and bolts of Responsive Classroom this year. I think you may find the origin of the program just as interesting as how it works. 

In 1981, a group of six passionate veteran teachers started their own lab school. They sought to establish the ideal learning environment that would be intellectually-focused while also fostering the development of social competence. Based on extensive research, they constructed a program that gave unprecedented attention to building a positive school community and fostering self-efficacy, resiliency, and interpersonal skills in children. 

Over subsequent decades, the team and their lab school continued to evolve into what is now known as The Center for Responsive Schools. Their research has led to major breakthroughs in the field of education, and they have published several seminal books that have transformed methods of academic and social-emotional teaching and learning. The list of titles and the vast number of studies that have been done is mind boggling! As a result, some of the most elite teacher and school administration preparation programs are turning to their work as a model for how the ideal school should function. 

Perhaps more important than their contributions to the educational canon is the training program they developed. The Center for Responsive Schools now provides intensive training seminars for educators. I have attended their institutes each summer, and the program has left an indelible mark on the way I work with and talk to children. Select WHPS elementary teachers spent time this summer at the Responsive Classroom Institute, and you will see the program rolling out in our elementary classrooms throughout this school year.

As WHPS teachers adopt Responsive Classroom, you will see:

  • Teaching of 21st century skills such as critical thinking problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation
  • Lessons that involve active and social learning
  • Students making meaningful choices about their own learning
  • Clearly established routines that promote autonomy and independence
  • Students feeling a sense of community and shared purpose
  • Use of specialized teacher language to promote academic and social growth
  • Classrooms starting each day with Morning Meeting as a way to set a positive tone for learning

In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to focus on the various components of Responsive Classroom. Our teachers will continue to participate in ongoing intensive learning opportunities together, and we will continue to provide learning opportunities for our families. It is a true honor to be able to further the work of the founders of The Center for Responsive Schools by bringing this program to WHPS. I think it is an outstanding way for us to continue to make our school stand out as a model for excellence in education.

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