What’s a Responsive Classroom book that you rely on?

A: Our school finds The First Six Weeks of School incredibly helpful. At the beginning of each year, new and returning staff members meet weekly for a book study on this book. We share how things are going in our classes and bounce ideas around for the upcoming week.

The book helps me remember the key elements for starting a year off right. I know that building a strong foundation for the year requires setting up routines and establishing expectations. But in those busy first days, I sometimes forget that time spent doing this is like putting money in the bank for later. The book helps me stay on track. I like the week-by-week format. Also,looking at the suggested schedule reassures me that everything can get done!

Christine Diaz is an English language development teacher at Humphrey
Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona.

A: Words . . . They sting. They soothe. They impede. They inspire. The Power of Our Words has made me a better teacher. I have read it five times in the past year!

When I began using the Responsive Classroom approach, I found the greatest challenge was changing my language in the classroom. I felt acutely aware of what not to say, but was often unable to find the right words quickly enough. Feeling tongue-tied was a new experience for me.

The Power of Our Words was the key to unlocking my voice. This book has clear explanations, examples, and suggestions for using positive language. Each time I read it, I highlighted the parts that stood out to me with a different color. Each reading has introduced me to new ideas, and by acting on them, I have seen huge changes in my classroom.

I actually own two copies of this book. My personal copy is the dog-eared and rainbow-highlighted one. The other copy I lend to others: administrators, new teachers, and veteran teachers alike. Everyone has something to learn from this book.

Cindy Kruse is a gifted support teacher for the Coatesville Area School
District in Pennsylvania.

A: Teaching Children to Care has a reserved spot on my teacher bookshelf. Although I have read it cover to cover many times, I still pull it out often.

I love this book because it offers practical suggestions for classroom management, and it explains the philosophy behind the techniques. It perfectly combines step-by-step how-to’s with clear, compelling why’s.

When a teacher asks me for a resource about the Responsive Classroom approach, this is always the first one I recommend. As a text for a staff book club, it inspired reflection, growth, and wonderful discussions. We often tried specific techniques in our classrooms the very next day. That’s what makes Teaching Children to Care so precious to me: It’s that rare book that provides teachers with ideas in the moment and food for thought over the long term.

Courtney Fox is a first grade teacher at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School
in Wilmington, Delaware.

A:  Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4–14 has assisted me through twelve years of teaching four different ages. Now that I teach first graders, I have a particularly apt quote from Yardsticks about six-year-olds posted in my classroom, and I glance at it regularly for a smile or inspiration: “The eagerness, curiosity, imagination, drive and enthusiasm of the six-year-old is perhaps never again matched in quantity or intensity during the life span . . .” It absolutely sums up this age and is one of the reasons I love first graders so much.

I pull out Yardsticks when I’m planning curriculum or when I’m stumped by a behavior. I share it with families. I use it with student teachers and colleagues. It is probably the rattiest, most worn teaching book I own. When someone bought me a new copy for Christmas, my first thought was, “Excellent!  Now I have a copy to lend out!”

Kirsten Howard teaches at Garfield Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia.

Tags: Professional Community, Professional Development