The hardest part of being an educator is not to teach your students the curriculum but to make them realize the core values that promise success in school and beyond.

Students need to learn a set of social and emotional competencies — cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control and a set of academic competencies — academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors.

Responsive Classroom is an approach to teaching based on the belief that integrating academic and social-emotional skills creates an environment where students can do their best learning. The Responsive Classroom approach consists of a set of practices and strategies that build academic and social-emotional competencies. This approach works well with many other programs and can be introduced gradually into a teacher’s practice.

Number 1: Morning Meeting:

When you work in a corporate environment morning meetings are part of a normal day’s routine, people get together with their teams to discuss the tasks of the day, if there is nothing important to discuss they just sit and talk for a few minutes before starting their day.

This principle has similar outcomes if implemented in a class room setting. Gathering as a whole class each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead. By sitting together and talking about the day ahead, discussing known challenges like a quiz, exam or a new chapter, students jump start their day. It helps divert their attention from home to processing their day at school. Classrooms that start their day with a meeting lead by their teacher perform better from the start of the day than of those who jump straight to classwork.

Number 2: Rule Creation:

We are social animals and having rules is what makes us civilized, but general rules are often not enough for proper functioning of a class room, as much as the rules are important in the classroom, it is also important that the students play an equal role in the rule creation for the class, the problems they face and their opinion based on their point of view, helping students create classroom rules ensures an environment that allows all class members to meet their learning goals. It adds to the responsibility on the students, they feel like they are more an integral part of the system therefore, they become accountable for their actions, they make the rules hence the respect for the system develops for what they have created for themselves.

Number 3: Interactive Modeling:

We believe what we see and certainly follow those rules that we see others or someone more in power implementing, teachers who spend more time and effort in adapting to the environment they have set for the class see a higher success rate, when they expect a certain behaviour form their class, the students also look forward to suitable responses to their questions, requests and actions.

Teaching children to notice and internalize expected behaviors through a unique modeling technique. In traditional modeling, the teacher shows children how to do a skill, routine, or procedure, tells them what to notice, and expects that they will learn it immediately.

Interactive Modeling also shows children how to do skills, routines, or procedures, but it goes well beyond that basic step. Students also learn exactly why the skill, routine, or procedure is important to their learning and the respectful, smooth functioning of the classroom.

Students are asked what they noticed about the teacher’s modeling, rather than told by their teacher what to notice.

They also see a few classmates additionally model the routine or procedure after the teacher’s initial modeling and practice the routine or procedure right away and receive immediate feedback and coaching from their teacher while they practice.

The distinctive steps of Interactive Modeling incorporate key elements of effective teaching: modeling positive behaviors, engaging students in active learning, and immediately assessing their understanding. Research shows that when we teach in this way, children achieve greater, faster, and longer-lasting success in meeting expectations and mastering skills.

With Interactive Modeling, children create clear, positive mental images of what is expected of them. They do the noticing themselves, which builds up their powers of observation and their analysis and communication skills. In addition, because they get immediate practice, they gain quicker expertise and stronger mastery of the procedure or skill being taught.

Use these seven steps to implement interactive modeling.

1: Briefly state what you will model, and why.

2: Model the behavior exactly as you expect students to do it, the right way, not the wrong way, and without describing what you’re doing unless you need to “show” a thinking process.

3: Ask students what they noticed. You may need to do some prompting, but children soon notice every little detail, especially as they gain expertise with this practice.

4: Invite one or more students to model the same way you did.

Again, ask students what they noticed the modelers doing.

Have all students model while you observe and coach them.

Provide feedback, naming specific, positive actions you notice and redirecting respectfully but clearly when students get off track.

Number 4: Positive Teacher Language:

What we say to students and how we say it is one of the most powerful teaching tools. Through careful use of language, we can support students as they develop self-control, build their sense of community, and gain academic skills and knowledge.

The Responsive Classroom approach offers specific language strategies for various areas of teaching. These strategies range from asking open-ended questions that stretch children’s thinking to using respectful reminding and redirecting language when children’s behavior goes off track.

Using words and tone as a tool to promote children’s active learning, sense of community, and self-discipline.

Let me share some guideline strategies to become a better vocal representation.

1: Be direct and genuine:

When we say what we mean and use a kind and straightforward tone, children learn that they can trust us. They feel respected and safe, which helps them develop self-discipline and take the risks that are necessary for learning.

Many of us slip into using indirect language as a way to win compliance from children.

Sarcasm, another form of indirect language, is also common in the classroom. For example when a teacher says; “John, what part of ‘Put your phone away’ don’t you understand?” the students laugh, and the teacher thinks she has shown that they have a sense of humor. But they embarrassed John and diminished his trust in them. And even though the other students laughed, they too might feel less trusting of the teacher, no longer seeing them as a protector but as someone who has the potential to use words in a hurtful way. It would be more effective for the teacher to directly state, “John, put your phone away.” If he doesn’t respond, then it’s time to try another strategy, such as the use of logical consequences.

2: Convey faith in children’s abilities and intentions

Our language shapes how children see themselves and their world. When our words and tone convey faith in children’s desire and ability to do well, the children are more likely to live up to our expectations of them.

Here is an example, “When everyone is ready, I’ll show how to plant the seeds.” “You can look at the chart to remind yourself of our ideas for good story writing.” “Show me how you will follow the rules in the hall.” These words, said calmly, in an even voice, communicate a belief that children want to and know how to listen, cooperate, and do good work. The students then come to see themselves as respectful listeners, cooperative people, and competent workers, and are more likely to behave accordingly. And when they do behave positively, it’s important to take the time to notice and comment on it, naming the specific behavior.

Number 5: Logical Consequences:

Responding to misbehavior in a way that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes while preserving their dignity. logical consequences are one of those strategies. Depending on the child and the situation, teachers might combine a logical consequence with other strategies, or they might use more than one logical consequence.

1: You break it, you fix it:

This type of logical consequence is used in situations when something has been broken or a mess has been made—whether accidentally or intentionally. The consequence is that those responsible for the problem take responsibility for fixing it. Teachers use this type of logical consequence when they see an opportunity for a child to solve a problem he or she has caused.

2: Loss of Privilege:

This type of logical consequence is used when children’s behavior does not meet pre-established expectations. The consequence is that the child loses the privilege of participating in an activity or using materials for a brief time, usually a class period or a day. What’s taken away must be directly related to the misbehavior, and the teacher must make sure that the child truly understands and can live up to expectations. Teachers use this type of logical consequence when children defy, test, or simply forget the rules.

3: Positive Time-Out

This type of logical consequence is used when a teacher believes that a child needs a way to calm down and recover self-control. The consequence is that the child moves to a pre-established place in the classroom, takes time to regroup, and then rejoins the class once he or she has calmed down. Teachers use time-out to keep minor misbehaviors, intentional and accidental from escalating and becoming disruptive, and to give children opportunities to practice strategies they’ve learned for regaining self-control. Because many children have experienced punitive uses of time-out, it’s important for teachers to explain that, Time-out simply gives them the time and space we all sometimes need to get ourselves in check when we begin to lose our cool.

Number 6: Guided Discovery:

Introducing classroom materials using a format that encourages independence, creativity, and responsibility.

One of the goals here is to get children interested in the material. One way teachers do this particularly with younger children is to create a mystery. This engages children’s thinking and helps them see familiar materials with fresh eyes.

But materials don’t always need to be hidden inside packages, and introductions don’t always need to take the form of mysteries.

Another goal is to build a common knowledge base. To do this, teachers use open-ended questions that encourage children to think about their past experiences with the material and to share current observations. Questions such as “How have you used dictionaries so far?”, “What might be in this box? What are your clues?”, “What do you know about markers?”, and “Look closely at your ruler. What’s one thing you notice?” are all examples of open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions are at the heart of Guided Discovery, occurring in every step

Number 7: Academic Choice:

A key Responsive Classroom strategy, Academic Choice is a way to structure lessons and activities. When teachers use Academic Choice, they decide on the goal of the lesson or activity, then give students a list of options for what to learn and/or how to go about their learning in order to reach the defined goal.

Used well, the strategy breathes energy and a sense of purpose into children’s learning. When students have choices in their learning, they become highly engaged and productive. They’re excited about learning and sharing their knowledge. They’re likely to think more deeply and creatively, work with more persistence, and use a range of academic skills and strategies. In addition, research has generally found that children have fewer behavior problems when they have regular opportunities to make choices in their learning, a finding supported by anecdotal evidence from teachers.

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Steve Hiles

I am a retired military and elementary school teacher living in Tennessee. I am an avid reader and love to write. I am very passionate about helping teachers. I hope you find my educational tips and strategies useful and enjoy hearing about my personal journey. Thanks for visiting!

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