Curriculum & Materials

Responsive Classrooms

A bit of a newcomer to the realm of education theory, philosophy and curriculum, as I continue doing research in those areas, I have found myself ‘discovering’ for the first time teaching styles that spark my imagination. Some philosophies are more realistic than others, and some work better for certain age groups over others. Since I have a little experience teaching elementary-age students, I find myself gravitating toward teaching strategies for that particular age group more often than not. In that category, I recently came across the Responsive Classroom approach.

The Responsive Classroom approach focuses on many of the same values that teachers with interests in teaching peace would identify with and want to foster with their students, so it grabbed my attention. As an article on educationworld.com describes, the responsive classroom “emphasizes students’ social as well as academic growth. Social skills — such as cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control — are taught directly and indirectly through morning meetings, prescribed rules with logical consequences, and organized play. Other emphases include guided discovery as a means of engaging students; academic choice to develop self-motivated learners; and family communication.”

But how does it shape up in real life? the office Responsive Classroom youtube channel has some informational and example videos about how a class might run using the principles of Morning Meeting and Interactive Modeling and Teacher Language. Even beyond “official” videos, there are other videos on youtube of teachers using Responsive Classroom techniques. I was impressed, and excited especially for the potential of Interactive Modeling, or “practicing” the behavior and attitudes we hope to teach students, for language classrooms, where full body response helps students understand better. I thought about how I used to simply read through our class rules every class to help remind my students, and how frustrated I got when their behavior didn’t seem to change. What a difference it might have made to model and practice that behavior instead.

What parts of the Responsive Classroom approach would be useful in creating classrooms where language skills grow, and peace educations can happen?

What parts of the Responsive Classroom approach would be more difficult to implement in a language classroom and might need to be tweaked? 

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Contributing Author

Abigail Long is a 2012 graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and a member of Fairview Ave Brethren in Christ Church in Waynesboro, PA. She spent 14 months teaching English in South Korea at the Connexus Language Institute and is deeply interested in the connections between language learning, teaching and peacebuilding.

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