Our Classroom Walls

During the school day we spend most of our time in our classroom and so do twenty to thirty students (give or take a few!). Many of us feel that our classroom is not complete until it is covered with colorful displays brightly shouting what our classroom hopes to be: Rules!  Library!  Math Area!  Aa Read More »
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Taking Positive Language Schoolwide

Positive language is a powerful tool for building a calm, safe school climate. The words we use when we talk to students, the intention behind these words, and how we deliver them…
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Adapting Morning Meeting: Speech and Anxiety Needs

Morning Meeting is a powerful way to start the day. It meets students’ needs for belonging, significance, and fun; provides students with an opportunity to practice social and emotional skills; and prepares…
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Building Bridges

Taking time to get to know parents sends an important message: We’re a team with a shared goal of helping students have a successful school year. Plus, parents have invaluable insight that…
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Strong Communities Build Strong Schools

Ask Dr. Nicole Evans Jones what the key is to creating a positive climate for children and she’ll tell you it’s all about the people and their relationships. Sure, the curriculum matters.…
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Our Hopes and Dreams for School

Inviting students to name learning goals (hopes and dreams) right away shows them that school is a safe place, that they’re important members of the classroom, and that they can look forward…
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Public Discipline Systems

Public discipline systems—like Class Dojo, stoplights, moving clothespins along a colored card, writing names on the board—can certainly be appealing. Some days can feel as if they’re spent just disciplining, and public…
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Music Class Rules

I’d been teaching for over 30 years and felt pretty comfortable with the way I managed my music classes. But a few years ago, I took a Responsive Classroom workshop, and it…
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Special Area Rules

Special area teachers may come up with their area rules on their own, use or adapt classroom rules, or use schoolwide rules. No matter where your special area rules come from, the…
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How’s Your Reinforcing Language?

Once June arrives, it’s tempting to focus on the more leisurely days ahead. That’s important to do—we all need rest and rejuvenation. But before you begin that well-earned downtime, pause for a…
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Envisioning Language: Naming Positive Identities

Learning and growth require hard work, and to do that hard work, students need to see themselves as capable people who can behave and achieve in ways beyond their current reality. Helping…
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Joyful Endings: The Last Few Weeks of School

Although we hope that our students’ learning won’t stop just because school does, it’s good to help them reach a sense of closure during the last few weeks of the year. Good…
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A Time of Change

Suddenly in the last few weeks, I can’t keep enough band aids stocked in my classroom. It seems like every time I look over, I see one of my students putting a…
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Changing a School Climate: How Responsive Classroom Helped

A little over a year ago, I became the principal at a school where discipline referrals and staff stress were at all-time highs. Change was clearly needed, and soon. I’d spent the…
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A Teacher Shares

Get Moving! It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and our class is preparing for language arts block. Recess and lunch seem like hours ago, and we still have an entire content area to…
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Teaching Without Using Rewards

Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition…
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The Fervent Fourteens

Fourteen-year-olds seem to have mostly gotten used to the idea of being teenagers. Their moods are not as mercurial as at thirteen. They are somewhat more comfortable in their own skin and…
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The Thriving Thirteens

The thirteen-year-old has lots of positive attributes to help navigate the first of these teen years. At the forefront are a keen sense of humor and a sense of silliness that makes…
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Looking Ahead to Next Year: The First Day of School

As the school year draws to a close, you’re probably thinking about ways to keep students engaged in their learning during the last weeks of school. But now is also a good…
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The Building Blocks of Collaboration: Partner and Small-Group Chats (Grades 5–6)

Children learn a great deal, academically and socially, by collaborating—working together toward common goals. A good way to help students begin developing collaboration skills is by teaching them how to exchange ideas,…
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Morning Meeting Visits: Sharing Ideas and Insights

I enjoy planning Morning Meetings for my students, and each year I see how beneficial these gatherings are in creating a positive classroom community. I’ve also found that sharing and being exposed…
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Adapting Morning Meeting Greeting for ELL Students

Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting is a powerful way to create a classroom climate of respectful, engaged learning and the greeting component sets the tone by helping all students feel noticed and appreciated…
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When Students Need More: Taking the Long View

A reality of teaching that all teachers know well is that no matter how effectively we teach, no matter how hard students try, and no matter how many good days the class…
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Doing Language Arts in Morning Meeting

Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting is a great way to set a positive tone for the day of learning ahead while also having fun and building community. It’s also a great way to…
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Magic Minutes

As students arrive first thing in the morning, I’m stationed in my customary position at the door, ready to greet each one. I offer Chase our usual gentle double fist bump and…
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Keeping Rules Front and Center During the Winter Slump

Recently I noticed my first graders having more trouble than usual sticking to our classroom rules. Several possible explanations came to mind as I began to reflect:“Am I not doing something I…
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Lively Learning for Professional Development

With increasing demands to meet rigorous curriculum standards and improve the quality of instruction, efficient, productive professional development (PD) and staff meetings are more critical than ever. Too often, though, these sessions…
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