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Responsive Classroom® Services

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.

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What is the Responsive Classroom approach

What does it look like in a school?

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 and 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 and 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 in Action
About A+SEL Competencies
Printable Resources to Build Connections

What Research Says

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. See below for study details.

Other Research:


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.

(Click each to view)

Introduction to Responsive Classroom for K-8 Educators

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.

  • Hear about the characteristics of teacher language that promote respectful, kind, and positive classroom communities
  • Explore interactive modeling—a structure to introduce routines and procedures in a clear and concise way
  • Participate in interactive learning structures you can use with your class to make lessons more engaging
  • Examine how the Responsive Classroom approach to discipline can establish a calm, orderly, and safe environment for learning

You will also have an opportunity to discuss ideas with colleagues, experience Responsive Classroom strategies as an adult learner, and see video of Responsive Classroom teachers implementing the strategies with students in grades K–8.

Prerequisite: None
Who should attend this workshop: K-8 educators
Resources Include: Introduction to Responsive Classroom Resource Book

Responsive Classroom Course (RCC)

The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching emphasizes academic, social, and emotional growth in a strong school community. We believe that how children learn is as important as what they learn, and that academic success is inextricably tied to building social-emotional competencies. In four interactive days, you’ll learn to use core Responsive Classroom practices to:

  • Begin and end the day positively with Morning Meeting and closing circle
  • Establish a calm, orderly, safe, and engaging environment for learning with a proactive approach to discipline
  • Integrate energizers and interactive learning structures throughout the school day
  • Develop teacher language that promotes respectful, kind, and positive classroom communities
  • Respond to misbehavior with clear, consistent expectations and logical consequences
  • Teach students how to complete academic tasks, interact with classmates, and maintain routines with Interactive Modeling
  • Give students choices in what they learn and/or how they learn to promote greater academic engagement and achievement
  • Create a developmentally appropriate learning environment
  • Establish rules with your students and provide positive structures to support success

You will also have an opportunity to work closely with colleagues, experience Responsive Classroom strategies as an adult learner, and see video clips of Responsive Classroom teachers implementing the strategies with students.

Prerequisite: None, suitable for grades K–6
Resources Include: The Responsive Classroom Course for Elementary Educators Resource Book, The First Six Weeks of School

Responsive Classroom Advanced Course (RCAC)

With these advanced Responsive Classroom strategies you’ll discover ways to create a classroom environment that excites students about learning, challenges them to think creatively and critically, proactively promotes positive behavior, and decreases disruptions due to misbehavior. Two main topics will be addressed in this course:

Engaging Academics: Motivate and Excite Your Students
Students learn best from lessons that connect with their lives and interests. You’ll learn how to design appropriately challenging, active and interactive lessons that deepen student learning.

  • Use open-ended questions to spark curiosity, understanding, and reflection
  • Help students to make the most of classroom resources with guided discovery
  • Promote autonomy by drawing on students’ strengths and interests
  • Tap into students’ intrinsic motivation and differentiate instruction as they explore lessons with the three phases of academic choice—planning, working, and reflecting
  • Integrate academics into your Morning Meeting
  • Remove barriers to student engagement
  • Teach students core communication skills—how to listen carefully, ask and respond to questions, craft an argument, and agree or disagree with others

Effective Management: Strategies for Challenging Behaviors
A positive, respectful approach to discipline can transform your classroom. Create a positive climate for learning and discover proactive approaches to misbehavior that will help to keep the focus on learning and get your students back on track when disruptions occur.

  • Understand why students misbehave and how to set them up for success each day by ensuring their basic and social-emotional needs are met
  • Set clear limits and expectations for students
  • Build empathy for students who struggle
  • Teach students how to navigate tricky social interactions
  • Learn when and how to effectively use logical consequences and when to request outside the classroom supports
  • Use problem solving conferences to address significant issues with individual students
  • Organize your classroom to support student learning

Prerequisite: Responsive Classroom Course for Elementary Educators
Resources Include: The Responsive Classroom Advanced Course Resource Book

PO Box 4754
Syracuse, NY 13221

Christopher J. Todd
Interim District Superintendent
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