Two Rivers uses the Responsive Classroom approach to create a safe environment where children are able to take risks, both academic and social, to help children understand the importance of kindness toward and acceptance of all people, to celebrate differences in people and cultures, and to learn important social skills such as empathy and problem solving. The Responsive Classroom model is based on research in social cognition, developmental psychology, multi-cultural education, and child development. It draws on the work of many great educational theorists as well as classroom teachers and administrators. It operates on the following seven guiding principles: The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
- How children learn is as important as what they learn.
- The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- There is a set of social skills that children need in order to be successful academically and socially. These are represented by the letters CARES: Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy and Self-Control.
- Knowing the children we teach – individually, culturally, and developmentally – is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing the families of the children we teach and encouraging their participation is essential to children’s education.
- How the adults at school work together to accomplish their shared mission is as important as individual competencies; lasting change begins with the adult community.
The Responsive Classroom approach offers interconnected strategies to use in classrooms such as: starting each school day with Morning Meeting, where students work together on group activities and greet each other; creating clear and consistent approaches to discipline that foster social responsibility; and classroom organization and family communication strategies to involve families as partners in their children’s education. It also focuses on student reflection, encouraging daily introspection about their goals, what they learned, things that could have been better, and things they would like to do in the future. This reflective component provides a strong connection with Expeditionary Learning. For more information about Responsive Classroom, please visit their website at www.responsiveclassroom.org.