What Kind of Teacher Are You?
“What kind of teacher are you?” A parent whose child will be in my class this year asked me that a few days ago. It was an honest question, and one I’ve answered before, but this time I was thrown for a bit of a loop. Blame it on lack of coffee or too many things on the schedule for the day, but afterwards I felt my answer sounded like gibberish. So, with a few hours distance and another caffeinated soda, here’s the answer I wish I had given:
I am a Responsive Classroom teacher. I believe every child can succeed in academics and behavior, but I do not assume that they already know how. I teach in ways that help them develop cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. I guide students to learn to self-monitor their behaviors, and to understand that their actions, words, and choices affect others as well as themselves. Our classroom community is built gradually on trust, with a common language, through rules that we create together, and by practicing procedures until they become nearly automatic. I use logical consequences and other responses to misbehavior to help students learn to self-regulate.
I am a Responsive Classroom teacher. I believe the words I use—my teacher language—can be a valuable tool for conveying to children and parents that each child is unique, important, and able to make progress. I believe the way I communicate can support or poison a classroom, and that my students are listening, ALL the time. So I speak to students in ways that help them reflect on how they are doing with all sorts of choices, both academic and social. I also use teacher language to reinforce when they are doing things correctly, to remind when things are getting off course or might be tricky, and to stop and redirect misbehavior before situations get out of control.
I am a Responsive Classroom teacher. I use the resources, materials, and educational standards I have to work with to engage my students in real learning. I believe that children want to learn, and that it’s motivating when classmates and the teacher are excited about learning, too. Whether we are practicing spelling words, reading to a partner, finding ways to make 10, or hypothesizing about why apple slices weigh less each day we leave them out in the air, I strive to make learning meaningful for the children I teach.
I am a Responsive Classroom teacher. I use the power of an approach to teaching that builds positive community, results in effective management, and leads to engaging academics, so that my students can achieve their hopes and dreams—for first grade and beyond.
I am a Responsive Classroom teacher.
Suzanne Wright is a Responsive Classroom consulting teacher in Sarasota, Florida.