Creating Lasting Change

Michelle Gill is a professional development designer at the Center for Responsive Schools, and former educator at Garfield Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia. During her time at Garfield, she was part of a transformative Responsive Classroom initiative that established a climate of growth, possibility, and high achievement. We asked Michelle to share her advice Read More »
Continue Reading

Building a Joyful Foundation

I can remember my first days as a principal as if it were yesterday. The vividness of the memory is largely because my first days of being a principal were also the…
Continue Reading

What Are Your Hopes?

As we prepare for our upcoming Teachers and Leadership Conferences, we’ve been thinking a lot about hope. Students’ hopes and dreams are, of course, an integral part of the beginning of the…
Continue Reading

This Room Was Made for You and Me

Children need a classroom environment they can understand and trust. They need to understand the routines and to know where to find things, they need uncluttered spaces to do their work, and…
Continue Reading

Our Actions Speak Louder Than Our Words

In 1991, Ruth Charney, co-founder of Responsive Classroom, wrote a book that impacted K-8 educators all over the world, Teaching Children to Care. A reflection of her 20-year teaching career as well…
Continue Reading

Setting a Vision for the Future

As the bustle of the after-school and after-work hours wound down for the night, I found my eight-year-old daughter in tears in her bedroom. She was hunched over her sketch pad. Colored…
Continue Reading

It’s Time to Reconnect

Helping students build relationships with each other is a key to creating an optimal learning environment. Stronger bonds mean students will be less likely to be unkind, to exclude others, to call…
Continue Reading

Teaching Students to Speak Confidently

“As their teachers, we hold in our hearts our own hopes and dreams for [our students]. We want them to engage in academic rigor and to be ideamongers who contribute to classroom…
Continue Reading

Know Your Students: Developmentally Responsive Planning

Knowing the students in your class happens in different ways for different teachers. A middle school teacher who sees 150 adolescents for one subject, 45 minutes a day will likely develop different…
Continue Reading

The Natural Learning Cycle

It’s the perfect time of year to pause and reflect on your personal teaching and learning goals—the hopes and dreams you set when school began. First, let’s take a step back and…
Continue Reading

What is Responsive Advisory Meeting?

Responsive Advisory Meeting serves as an anchor for adolescents, a predictable routine that students need more than ever as they undergo rapid physical, emotional, and intellectual changes. Just as Morning Meeting helps…
Continue Reading

What is Quiet Time?

Consider the energy and intensity that often accompany the middle of the day. Lunch and recess provide students with opportunities to run, play, eat, and socialize, and teachers often see this energy…
Continue Reading

Stop Bullying Before It Starts

National Bullying Prevention Month is an opportunity to reflect on a serious problem that not only deprives students of a joyful learning environment, but can have toxic effects on the recipient that…
Continue Reading

Teachers, Specializing in… Everything!

You’re a master of flexibility, an expert gear-switcher, and you know and teach every student at your school. You’re a Special Area Teacher. And you’re amazing! Being a Special Area Teacher means…
Continue Reading

Starting the Year Off with Joy

Each of these practices promotes active teaching over direct teaching: Rather than education being a one-way street in which a teacher lectures, learning becomes a collaboration between teacher and students. And if…
Continue Reading

Getting Started with Responsive Classroom

No matter where in the year you are, when you’re feeling ready to start using the Responsive Classroom approach, that’s the right time to begin! But where do you start? “It’s all…
Continue Reading

Bring Social Studies Into Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting is a chance for teachers to introduce and reinforce critical academic and social-emotional skills for students of any age. Bringing social studies into Morning Meeting can give students extra opportunities…
Continue Reading

Time-Out: Early, Often, and for Everyone

At least once a year, one colleague or another comes to me and says, “Gina, something is not right. Can you observe my class and see if you can figure out what’s…
Continue Reading

Academic Engagement in the Home Stretch

You’ve made it to the last few months of the academic year! From spring fever to state testing, there are lots of reasons why students might need a nudge to stay engaged…
Continue Reading

Spring Rejuvenation

No matter what the weather is like where you are, it can be challenging for both students and teachers to maintain enthusiasm at this point in the school year. The beginning-of-school energy…
Continue Reading

Helping Students Give Effective Compliments

Telling students what they’re doing right is one of the most powerful tools we have for helping them solidify and build on their positive behaviors and skills—and teachers aren’t the only ones…
Continue Reading

Revisiting Classroom Rules

How often do you revisit classroom rules? Most teachers establish rules at the beginning of the year, and many devote time to modeling and practicing rules with students in the first weeks…
Continue Reading

Engaging Middle Schoolers During the Holiday Season

With interrupted classroom schedules, school vacations, and increased disruptive student behaviors, managing the classroom can feel like a daunting task during the winter holiday season. With a little strategizing, you can help…
Continue Reading

Responding to Defiance in the Moment

Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own…
Continue Reading