The Responsive Classroom® approach for improving interactions with children

Educators and policy makers often ask, “If we focus our attention on children’s social learning, will we diminish their academic achievement?” Sara Rimm-Kaufman discusses one approach designed to support both these aspects of learning  

TEACHERS FACE CHALLENGES balancing their goals to meet children’s social and emotional needs with academic learning. Although most teachers strive to create classrooms that offer both pleasant social environments and academic challenge, the daily demands on teachers make it difficult for them to be responsive and sensitive to children while also creating stimulating academic environments. The Responsive Classroom® (RC) approach offers a set of principles and practices designed to support elementary school teachers’ efforts. Examples of these principles and practices can be found in Figure 1.

What we know
● Teachers who use Responsive Classroom practices:
● Feel more effective at handling discipline issues and hold more positive attitudes toward teaching;
● Have students who feel more positive toward their teachers, classmates, and learning;
● Enhance children’s academic learning, as measured by standardized math and reading tests.

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February 2010