Principal’s Corner: What goes into making a responsive classroom?

Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2017

Principal’s Corner by Judi Vitito

Maybe you’ve heard your child or your child’s teacher talk about morning meetings. Or, maybe you’ve heard about logical consequences. 

No matter what you’ve heard, responsive classrooms are more than what meets the eye and are the foundation of joyful learning in our school.

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Understanding how children learn, building positive relationships with students and families, awareness that social and academic learning go hand in hand, and the belief that all children want to learn and can learn are the foundational ideas that we value at Hawthorne.

Judi Vitito

Teachers at Hawthorne are skilled in understanding how children learn. They provide time for activity and exploration throughout the year, allow learners to discover answers for themselves, and provide opportunities to practice and make mistakes in a safe environment. 

Relationships are at the heart of our teaching. Knowing each and every one of our students, their strengths and areas for growth help us to respond with our teaching strategies. Teachers observe students in guided reading groups, during math lessons, in social situations and in various situations throughout the day so that they can purposefully plan to meet the needs of each student.

At Hawthorne, we also recognize that social and academic learning go hand in hand.

Our teachers pay attention to teaching children positive social skills through their daily routines and activities. We pay attention to how children treat one another, and reinforce respect and caring as the basis for social interactions. We understand that our beliefs and visions for children actually shape their behavior. We believe that all children want to and are able to do well. We believe in our students’ potential for competence and goodness.

At Hawthorne, and all elementary schools in Albert Lea, we strive to provide a week-long intensive training in responsive classrooms so that our children have highly skilled teachers who uphold these values — not only in morning meetings but throughout the day to create meaningful, joyful classrooms that respond to the needs of children.

Note: this article is based on the work of responsive classrooms and the Northeast Foundation for Children Inc.

Judi Vitito is the principal of Hawthorne Elementary School.