Elora Road Christian School began implementing Responsive Classroom practices into our school this past September. Already, we have been amazed by the changes that we are seeing in our staff and students. Our teachers have enjoyed the chance to get to know their students better during the daily "Morning Meeting" time, and the students have responded very well to a less academic and more socially interactive start to their day. As a school, we have also incorporated a Morning Meeting time into our weekly Friday assembly time, with a message, greeting, sharing time, and sometimes an activity. This has allowed for increased interaction and relationship building between students across grades. Parents who attend these assemblies are getting a glimpse into how their children typically begin their school day.
Following the guidelines set-out in the First Six Weeks of School book and engaging in intensive "interactive modelling" gave Elora Road Christian School a great start to our school year and a language and technique that was consistent in each classroom. Changing the organization of our classrooms and working to create engaging lessons and academic choice has increased student participation in lessons, and has helped our teachers to teach much more effectively. Adopting consistent teacher language and consistent discipline techniques has enabled our entire staff to be on the same page. As a result, we are seeing less discipline issues, and teachers now feel like they have the tools they need to deal with any challenging students.
The use of the chime by all teachers in all settings has really helped our teachers with classroom management. Even when the whole school is gathered together, one ring of the chime can settle 100 students down very quickly. The chime and Responsive Classroom discipline techniques have made transitions between rotary subjects for our grade 5-8 students run much more easily, as the same expectations are carried from classroom to classroom.
Overall, Responsive Classroom has transformed Elora Road Christian School. It has given us tools to be able to effectively teach each of our students in meaningful ways, and has created behaviour management consistency in every school space. The teachers feel empowered and have more positive relationships with their students. The students look forward to their daily Morning Meeting and Quiet Time. They are flourishing in an environment that is now meeting their social-emotional needs as well as their academic needs. I highly recommend Responsive Classroom for anyone who is looking to make positive changes in their school.
Cindy Westendorp is the Principal at Elora Road Christian School in Guelph, Ontario.