What makes Responsive Classroom different from traditional teaching methods? Its mission is to create an atmosphere in which students of all levels can thrive – finding success academically and socially while learning and growing in a place that feels joyful and safe.
“Responsive Classroom emphasizes the importance of the process, not just the final product,” said sixth grade history teacher, Meriwether Truckner. “While traditional teaching methods are often more teacher-centered, Responsive Classroom focuses more on student-centered learning.”
Based on a set of guiding principles and practices, Responsive Classroom mirrors the school’s emphasis on essential character skills – traits that help students develop into successful adults in the world beyond academics. Learned through social settings and real-life experiences, these character skills include responsibility, empathy, respect, fairness, integrity, honesty, cooperation, self-control, and perseverance.
Students taking ownership of their learning process is fundamental Responsive Classroom. “Rather than every student being assigned the same piece of work every night, students choose at the end of a class what they’d like to practice that night, depending on how well they feel they grasped the skill during the day,” says fifth grade math teacher Toby Lowe. “Most of the feedback I’ve received about homework choice has been positive, and they like getting to pick what they do. In class, choice might look a little different, but it can be as simple as having different seating options for students. The idea is that the more ownership you allow students to take of their learning, the more they ought to care about it, because they have more skin in the game.”
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) describes Responsive Classroom as one of the most “well-designed evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs.” Additionally, it is associated with higher academic achievement, increased quality among instructors, and overall improvements in school environments. As St. Andrew’s moves forward, Responsive Classroom will allow every student to develop academically, socially, and emotionally, preparing them to excel not only in the classroom, but in life beyond.