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 previous eight years leading another school into becoming a safe, joyful learning community, thanks mainly to our use of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching.
Continue Reading

The Power of Responsive Classroom

Sometimes a few little numbers can tell a great big story. That's the case with the changing numbers of disciplinary referrals at Palmyra-Macedon Primary School in Palmyra, NY. When the Responsive Classroom approach…
Continue Reading

School Gatherings

During my thirty-nine-year teaching career, I’ve walked school hallways in five states and taught many students in public, private, and parochial settings. Over all those years, I’ve seen the power of group…
Continue Reading

Big Changes, Big Gains

When principal Susan Mele arrived four years ago at Stewartsville Elementary School, the discipline was in chaos. More time was being spent on discipline than instruction; teachers were exhausted from dealing with…
Continue Reading

Dismissal Time

A few years ago, at dismissal time at Four Corners Elementary School in Greenfield, Massachusetts, 229 students in grades K through 5 would leave their classrooms simultaneously and head for the school's…
Continue Reading

Leadership That Inspires Change: Three Keys to Success

When Rita White stepped into her first principalship at an inner-city school in Memphis, Tennessee, she faced daunting challenges. The school of 980 students was on the state’s “needs improvement” list, students…
Continue Reading

Starting with a Common Signal

"Where should we start?" is a common question for schools that want to implement the Responsive Classroom approach schoolwide. There's not one right answer, although it's definitely helpful to invest early on…
Continue Reading

The Principal Story (Film Review)

At the recent National Staff Development Council (NSDC) conference in St. Louis, I had an opportunity to view The Principal Story. This documentary, which aired on PBS earlier this fall, tells a…
Continue Reading

Taking the Responsive Classroom Approach Schoolwide

At a time when many policy makers are concerned primarily with children's cognitive development and how they do on standardized tests, educators from around the country gathered in Amherst, Massachusetts, to reaffirm…
Continue Reading

Schoolwide Rules Creation

Sheffield Elementary, a grade 3–6 school in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, faced a challenge familiar to many educators: how to develop a more consistent approach to discipline from classroom to classroom and in…
Continue Reading

Calm, Friendly Hallway Behavior Is Now Part of the School Culture

A whistle blows, signaling that the day is about to begin. The children scamper to organize themselves into grade-level lines. On an adult’s signal, one line moves toward the building, pausing at…
Continue Reading

Traveling Rules

Q: The classroom environment is calmer and friendlier when I work with the children to create classroom rules. But I still get reports from lunch, recess, and special area teachers about problematic…
Continue Reading