Fast Company - April : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Fast Company/ April - Jill Herzig The article I have chosen to respond to is the article entitled " Schools that Think." The school model that interests me most is the Responsive Classroom. The Responsive Classroom originated in Greenfield, Massachusetts and centers around the premise that social education is as important as academics. The primary interest lies in developing " ethical decision makers and problem solvers. The founders have created a model of social skills learning that is integrated into every aspect of school life. I have had the privilege of attending a five-day Responsive Classroom workshop this past summer. It was very motivational. I enjoyed the format of the workshop, because we were to take on the role of the children and to experience first hand what our children would experience with this program. I was impressed with the components within the program and have incorporated many into my classroom. The primary component I have implemented, is the Morning Meeting. It is time that is set aside each morning devoted to social skills and positive reinforcement centered on school rules and student's feelings. There are four components of this meeting including greeting, news and announcements, sharing, and an interactive activity. I feel this activity has been beneficial to my students. I like the aspect that there are no wrong answers and that all the student's opinions are valuable. The meetings are conducted in a circular formation and this lends itself to the feeling of unity and togetherness. We are able to have a forum where all the students can voice their beliefs and be given positive reinforcement by their teacher as well as their peers. The second implemented area is Academic Choice. It is based on the theory that each child learns differently and has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. It is our jobs as teachers to discover these unique strengths and capitalize on them for maximum output from the children in our classrooms. Many researchers have proven that not only do children learn best from what they enjoy doing, but a variety of other factors contribute to a child's strengths. This is done by offering a variety of ways to demonstrate knowledge of a certain subject matter. (For example, how would you show that you understand the planets in the solar system? -3D-model, drawing, essay, human model, etc.) This gives the students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a manner they feel comfortable with, and over time, a teacher can expand their exposure to other ways of expressing their knowledge. The final areas of responsive classroom that I have implemented are modeling and Hopes and Dreams. Modeling is demonstrating the correct procedures for everything the students will come in contact with during the school day. The mantra is " Assume Nothing Model Everything." Also, the Hopes and Dreams aspect deals with having the students and parents verbalize their academic hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year and to work on them and update them as the year progresses. I am by no means an expert in the area of Responsive Classroom and have not implemented all aspects of the program into my classroom. I am interested in attending a second workshop to continue my growth as a teacher in the area of social teaching and ethical problem solving. I hope by preparing my students to think for themselves and to respect the people around them, it will make them more contentious learners and in turn they will grow up to be more civic-minded citizens.

-- Anonymous, March 29, 2000

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