Responsive Classroom Approach


We are a community of learners. As a whole faculty and staff we regularly spend time discussing our overall school culture.

What gives a school its culture? We do. Every person who interacts and reacts with this campus and the people on it help create its culture. Our beliefs, perceptions, relationships, attitudes, teacher language, collaboration, written and unwritten rules; our everyday interactions help shape and influence every aspect of how our school functions.

As a faculty we talk about behavior policies, school meetings, transitions, as well as other various school routines, such as those in our Dining Hall. At the core of these discussions is Responsive Classroom.

What Is The Responsive Classroom Approach?

Responsive Classroom is a research-based, widely used approach to education that is associated with greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate. The Responsive Classroom approach is proven to create a safe learning environment for every child.

Parts of Responsive Classroom have been integral to our school culture at The Country School; a perfect example is our five-year rotation of CARES (Cooperation, Assertion, Respect and Responsibility, EMPATHY, and Self-control).

As a New Haven County school that features the responsive classroom approach from PreSchool and the Early Childhood Center through Lower School, Intermediate, and Middle School grades, teachers weave Responsive Classroom practices into their daily experiences:

  • Morning Meeting
  • Interactive Modeling
  • Student-Generated Classroom Guidelines/Rules
  • Logical Consequences
  • Classroom Organization
  • Collaborative Problem Solving
  • Energizers/Brain Breaks
  • Goal Setting/“Hopes and Dreams”
  • Take a Break/Mindfulness Space/Yoga
  • Shared language (CARES)
  • Cooperative Games and Learning Experiences
  • Guided Discovery
  • Role Play
  • Trust Activities
  • Weekly Open Circle

The Responsive Classroom approach is informed by the work of educational theorists and the experiences of exemplary classroom teachers. Six principles guide this approach:

  1. Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
  2. How we teach is as important as what we teach.
  3. Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  4. How we work together as adults to cre­ate a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
  5. What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expec­tations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
  6. Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.

Interested in learning more? Visit www.responsiveclassroom.org.