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Literacy & Humanities



What is Responsive Classroom® 

Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to elementary education that leads to greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate. Responsive Classroom practices help educators become more effective in three key domains-each of which enables and enriches others:

  1. Engaging Academics Adults create learning tasks that are active, interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students’ interests.
  2. Positive Community Adults nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotionally safety so that students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers
  3. Effective Management Adults create a calm, orderly environment that promotes autonomy and allows students to focus on learning.
  4. Developmentally Appropriate Adults use knowledge of child development, along with observations of students, to create a developmentally appropriate learning environment.

An Array of Services Offered by OCM BOCES

OCM BOCES’ Responsive Classroom Professional Development
Since the early 90’s, OCM BOCES has had a strong relationship with the Center for Responsive Schools (CRS), developers of the Responsive Classroom approach. We have been a licensed agency to provide Responsive Classroom training and have had certified trainers for almost 30 years! 
Regional OCM BOCES workshops are offered via MLP throughout the year!
School Districts can hold Responsive Classroom trainings in their districts upon request.

One-Day Workshops (Available upon Request)

Introduction to Responsive Classroom
In this one-day introduction to the Responsive Classroom approach, you'll learn how Responsive Classroom practices help teachers to foster positive community, integrate academics with the teaching of social and emotional skills, and create the conditions for positive student behavior.

4-Day Workshops (Offered Regionally & Available upon Request)

Elementary Core Course (Revised – 2020)
Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching and discipline that's deeply rooted in social-emotional learning (SEL) and focused on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness.
Learn to create safe and joyful learning communities where every student can thrive—while helping your students develop strong social, emotional, and academic skills. In four engaging and interactive days, you'll develop a clear understanding of how to mindfully and holistically apply the Responsive Classroom approach to your unique setting.

Elementary Advanced Course (Revised – 2021)
Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that's deeply rooted in social-emotional learning (SEL) and focused on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness.
The Elementary Advanced Course is designed to increase your knowledge and expand your teaching strategies and practices to strengthen the Responsive Classroom approach you're already using. In this four-day, interactive training course, you will learn new methods and strategies. (Prerequisite: Elementary Core Course)

Focus On Teacher Effectiveness

For over 30 years (over 20 years here at OCM BOCES), Responsive Classroom has been empowering educators by giving them the skills they need to ensure a high-quality education that will help all students thrive in our highly connected, interdependent world.
Professional development in the Responsive Classroom approach strengthens educators’ ability to:

  • Design lessons that are active and interactive
  • Use effective teacher language to promote academic and social growth
  • Encourage engagement by giving students meaningful choices
  • Start each day in a way that sets a positive tone for learning
  • Set high expectations and teach students how to meet them
  • Establish routines that promote autonomy and independence
  • Build a sense of community and share purpose
  • Teach student 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem-soloving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation

Principles & Practices

The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is comprised of a set of well-designed practices intended to create safe, joyful, and engaging classroom and school communities. The emphasis is on helping students develop their academic, social, and emotional skills in a learning environment that is developmentally responsive to their strengths and needs.

Core Belief

In order to be successful in and out of school, 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.

Guiding Principles

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.

Classroom Practices & Strategies

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.

These core classroom practices are the heart of the Responsive Classroom approach:

Practices (K–6) 

  • Morning Meeting – Everyone in the classroom gathers in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes at the beginning of each school day and proceeds through four sequential components: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message.
  • Establishing Rules – Teacher and students work together to name individual goals for the year and establish rules that will help everyone reach those goals.
  • Interactive Modeling – An explicit practice for teaching procedures and routines (such as those for entering and exiting the room) as well as academic and social skills (such as engaging with the text or giving and accepting feedback).
  • Teacher Language – The intentional use of language to enable students to engage in their learning and develop the academic, social, and emotional skills they need to be successful in and out of school.
  • Logical Consequences – A non-punitive response to misbehavior that allows teachers to set clear limits and students to fix and learn from their mistakes while maintaining their dignity.
  • Interactive Learning Structures – Purposeful activities that give students opportunities to engage with content in active (hands-on) and interactive (social) ways.
  • Academic Choice – Is a way to structure lessons and activities and allowing student choice of the “what” and/or the “how”.
  • Classroom Organization – A well-organized classroom makes it easier for productive learning to take place.
  • Guided Discovery – A proactive strategy for introducing classroom materials.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving – Role-Play, Class Meetings, Problem-Solving Conferences and Student-to-Student Conflict Resolution structures to allow students to collaboratively handle school problems.
  • Energizers – Short, playful, whole-group activities that are used as breaks in lessons.
  • Quiet Time – A brief, purposeful and relaxed time of transition that takes place after lunch and recess, before the rest of the school day continues.
  • Closing Circle – A five- to ten-minute gathering at the end of the day that promotes reflection and celebration through participation in a brief activity or two.

Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach as defined in the ESSA.

Independent research has found that the Responsive Classroom approach is associated with higher academic achievement, improved teacher-student interactions, and higher quality instruction.

Responsive Classroom is a CASEL Approved Program

As a CASEL SELect Program, Responsive Classroom is identified as a high-quality, evidence-based, well-designed classroom program that systematically promotes students’ social and emotional competence, provides opportunities for practice, and offers multi-year programming. In addition, the CASEL SELect Program designation indicates that Responsive Classroom delivers high-quality educator training and provides support for implementation.