Responsive Classroom Is Expanding into Middle School

“I teach in a middle school. Do you have strategies designed specifically for that setting?”

We at Responsive Classroom hear this question a lot, and I’m pleased to announce that very soon we will be answering that question with a resounding “Yes!”

Right now, even as I write, staff here are busy developing a middle school Responsive Classroom approach that translates the principles of Responsive Classroom into practices that work in a typical middle school structure and that fit the common developmental characteristics of middle-school students.

Starting this summer and coming school year, we’ll be testing this middle school model with a diverse group of public schools that range in size, racial and ethnic makeup, urban versus suburban location, and family economic level. What we learn from the testing will shape the final Responsive Classroom middle school approach.

Why Middle School?

So why are we expanding into middle school? Because it’s good for children. Thirty years of Responsive Classroom use by elementary teachers have shown that this approach is associated with student gains in the academic, social, and emotional skills they need for success in school and life.

We’re bringing Responsive Classroom into middle school because we want to ensure that students continue to make such gains when they leave elementary school and enter this next critical period in their school careers. It’s the next logical step in meeting our mission to ensure a high-quality education for every child every day. At the same time, middle schools around the country are telling us they want Responsive Classroom in their schools. Ultimately, what all parties want is continuous optimal learning for children.

Real-World Testing and Retesting by Middle School Teachers

A central feature of the development of the middle school Responsive Classroom approach—one that I’m tremendously excited about—is its use of an improvement science framework.

Simply put, we’ll be developing middle school practices, teachers in our partner schools mentioned above will be testing them with their actual classes, we’ll make adjustments, they’ll retest, we’ll readjust, and so forth until the practices are right. All this development and testing will be done using a scientific protocol created by educational researchers, who will be right in the thick of things collecting data and guiding each step of development and testing.

This means what’s ultimately launched as the middle school Responsive Classroom approach will be research-guided and practical for middle school teachers, featuring practices that middle school teachers want to and can use within the structures and requirements of their classrooms and schools.

Stay Tuned

We want to keep you informed of our progress on this exciting project. We’ll share more news in the next few months.

And as always, thank you for the good work you’re doing to give every child a high-quality education every day. Let’s keep moving forward—relentlessly forward!

Lora Hodges is executive director of Center for Responsive Schools, Inc.

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