Igniting the Fires of Learning

By the time the school year reaches November, students feel a familiarity with the rhythm of the school day that leads to more intensified learning. This increase in academic challenges can be stressful for students and teachers alike. That stress, coupled with shorter days and anticipation of the Thanksgiving break, can cause teachers to rely Read More »
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Bullying Prevention: How Aware Are You? 5 Steps You Can Take

According to stopbullying.gov, between one in four and one in three U.S. students say they have been bullied at school. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and this provides an opportunity for…
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What to Do When Students Start Testing Limits

The school year is in full swing: hopes and goals have been established, classroom and school expectations are in place, and learning is in high gear. Everything is off to a great…
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How to Create Meaningful and Rewarding Relationships with Colleagues

A guiding principle of Responsive Classroom is “How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.” In…
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Clearing the Way for New Growth

Recently I was in a school conducting observations, and I noticed that all of the classrooms were picture-perfect. The decorations on the walls looked like an advertisement for a teacher store, and…
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Highlighting Academics with Belonging, Significance and Fun

“When we start the day with everyone together, face to face, welcoming each person, sharing news, listening to individual voices, and communicating as a caring group, we make several powerful statements. We…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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What’s in a Name?

How do you refer to the students in your class when addressing them? At first glance, this may seem like a trivial issue; but consider how many times throughout the day we…
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Take it Slow with Morning Meeting

It's hard to believe that the school year is upon us. I remember the excitement—and apprehension—I felt as I made my lesson plans for the first weeks of school. One of the…
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Relationships: Always More to Learn

I teach a class of fourth graders with a span of academic skills, developmental characteristics, and cultural and economic backgrounds. If I had to describe what makes such a diverse class work…
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Easy Ways to Vary Morning Meeting Greetings

How can you keep the sense of comfortable routine while also varying Morning Meetings enough to keep students (and adults) interested and engaged? Greetings can set the tone for the whole meeting—and…
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Teaching Skillful Communication

Ryan holds up the book so all his classmates can see the cover and begins: "Reptile Facts is my favorite first grade book. Every first grader should read this book because it…
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When the Wheels Start to Wobble

Ever drive down the road and realize the car is wobbly and perhaps in need of alignment? Sometimes I just know my class is going to feel the same way. Right before a…
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Making Up for Lost Time

"Maybe we'll get to teach in February." That's been the joke at my school after snow, ice, and extreme cold, plus holidays and teacher workdays meant that last month we had only…
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Magnetic Friendships

As a kid, I was fascinated by magnets: the force they exert, the way they could push and pull through tables, windows, and papers . . . sometimes without even touching! Now…
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Keeping Morning Meeting Greetings Fresh and Fun

After doing many Morning Meetings, teachers often wonder how to keep the sense of comfortable routine while also varying the meetings enough to keep students (and adults) interested and engaged. Greetings can…
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Ask Yourself Why

What's your vision for your classroom community this year? How do you want the room to look, sound, and feel once the first weeks of school are over? In my last post,…
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Envisioning Your Classroom

I started setting up my classroom a few days ago, and of course I was thinking about the first days of school, but what really guided my decisions was a vision of…
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Enjoying Each Student

With some classes, the characteristics of the group tend to overshadow the personalities and interests of individual students. Earlier this year, I had that experience with my current third grade class, and…
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How Well Do You Know Your Students?

I'd like you to try a challenge I used to give myself several times a year when I was a classroom teacher. First, divide a piece of paper into three columns. In…
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Building Community Through Academics

When they are working towards a common goal, engaged in a fascinating topic, or trying to figure out a solution for a meaningful problem, students feel more connected to school and each…
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No Ordinary Monday

Teachers, principals, and other school staff nationwide are thinking about what to do and what to say tomorrow when they and their students return to school in the wake of the horrific…
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Are You Having Fun?

One afternoon in late October, my third grade class laughed together for the first time this year. It happened as we were getting ready to transition from science to math. "Okay," I…
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The Value of Struggle

"When did your courage surprise you?" I was profoundly moved by this question when it was posed at a conference I attended years ago, and it came back to me recently when…
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