WHPS Responsive Classroom Program

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

We would like you to know about an exciting enhancement to our program this year, the Responsive Classroom curriculum for social-emotional education and conflict resolution. Responsive Classroom provides a framework for teaching key social skills that children need to learn and practice in order to succeed socially and academically—cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control (CARES). While these values and skills have always been at the core of our program, the beauty of Responsive Classroom is that it enables the entire staff to provide a consistent school-wide approach in reinforcing these skills. These skills work in concert with the pillars of character, which already underpin our program.

Responsive Classroom is a social curriculum designed for schools like WHPS.  Many behavior “programs” are designed to help schools combat difficult behavior problems;  Responsive Classroom—on the other hand—was designed to help elevate behavior and learning to an even higher level in healthy schools where parents and teachers are committed to working together in modeling values and social skills.  Like other academic programs at WHPS, Responsive Classroom is based on many years of sound educational research into its efficacy. The program has proven to help children feel more positive about school, teachers and peers, have better social skills, and score higher in reading and math!

What does Responsive Classroom look like?  The components that you will see over the coming weeks and months are as follows:

  • Morning Meeting: A daily class routine that helps children transition from home to school, builds community, creates a positive climate for learning, and reinforces academic and social skills.  Morning Meeting will generally occur during the first 15-30 minutes of the school day.
  • Hopes & Dreams: Students and teachers begin the year by reflecting on their hopes and dreams for the year. These are discussed and displayed in the room and are used as the basis for creating classroom rules and guidelines to support everyone’s success. Parents will have an opportunity to share and post their hopes and dreams for their child at Back to School Night.
  • Democratically Student-Created Classroom Rules: During the first week of school, children in each class will construct rules for how they will treat: themselves, one-another, and the environment.
  • Interactive Modeling: A special protocol for proactively teaching and practicing routines and setting children up for a safe, supportive, successful school experience.
  • Logical Consequences: One way teachers will respond to misbehavior is by designing a consequence in collaboration with the child.  Consequences are not punitive in nature, but they are relevant, realistic and respectful.
  • Teacher Language: Stay tuned for LOTS more information about teacher language this year! This is our most powerful tool as teachers (and as parents). 

As part of our commitment to making Responsive Classroom a success in our community, the entire WHPS elementary staff will be engaged in ongoing professional development for the program.  Over the coming weeks and months, our faculty will continue to receive intensive training in Responsive Classroom, and we will share information with you about additional elements of the program as we begin using them.  There will also be a brief overview of the program and a chance to participate in a “Morning Meeting” at Back to School Night.  We believe you will find many elements of the program helpful at home as well, and we are looking forward to partnering with your family in raising a resilient child who CARES.    

Morning Assembly & Morning Meeting

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

It’s the 2nd day of school; the enthusiasm among our students and teachers is infectious! There is so much exciting news to share about the upcoming school year. You may have already noticed a couple small changes to our morning routines.

Flagpole/Morning Assembly: Parents are encouraged to attend Morning Assembly whenever you are able. This is our schoolwide beginning to the day (at 8:00 a.m. sharp) when we salute the flag and recite our character pledge. If it is a child’s birthday, they will be called up for a special acknowledgement. We will also be conducting some special recognition of students who were “caught” demonstrating character strengths: respect, caring, responsibility, honesty, perseverance or fairness. We do ask, however, that children say goodbye to parents as they line up with their class.

Morning Meeting: It is important for children (and teachers) to arrive to their classrooms each morning without distractions and ready to begin Morning Meeting. This is a specially designed 15-25 minute meeting that will begin every day of learning in every classroom. Students and teachers gather in a circle on the rug for a class meeting. Each meeting consists of four parts:

Greeting: Every student participates in the greeting and is met with a high five, handshake, hug or even sometimes a silly greeting. This is also a time when teachers are proactively teaching social behaviors such as, eye contact and active listening.

Share:  Students get to share/talk about various topics, which plays an important role in building a positive classroom community. Just as important, sharing offers ample opportunities to practice and reinforce the speaking, listening, and thinking skills that are so crucial to success in school and in life.

Activity: We might sing a song, read a poem or play a specially selected game together, just because it’s fun to be together. The activity is designed so that no matter what the morning might have been like before the Morning Meeting, when the last song is sung and the last poem read and the last game played, the hustle and bustle of the morning (and that lost sock or spilled bowl of cereal) have all been forgotten. It is a fresh start and a new day.

Morning Message: In many ways, the Morning Message is a love note from the teacher to the students reinforcing something they have done or learned. It is also the “active engagement” for the day. It may ask the students to answer a question on a post-it or vote on a particular topic. It leads into the first new learning activity of the day.

There is much more to be said about Responsive Classroom, which is based on over 30 years of widely accepted educational research. I encourage you to watch for upcoming newsletters and blog posts to find out more. You will also have an opportunity to experience Morning Meeting for parents at back to school night.

 -Seth Pozzi
Assistant Head of School
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Written by Mr. Pozzi & Ms. Dexter on .

Welcome to the 2019-20 school year. WHPS Elementary has a VERY exciting year in store, and the school blog is a great place to find information about our program. 

We hope you check our blog often.

Have a terrific year!

Seth Pozzi, Head of School
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