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Contributing Editor: Karen Poplawski, Director of Responsive Classroom Programs

Chip Wood, a co-founder of the Responsive Classroom approach to education, noted:

From its inception, nearly forty years ago, Responsive Classroom practices have centered on the inseparable connections between academic and social learning. The fact of the matter is that how children learn is just as important as what they learn, in and out of school.

. . . From childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood, we learn for social and emotional reasons: in order to become more knowledgeable, kind, and wise in our relationships in our families, our schools, our jobs, and as citizens. (C. Wood, personal communication, February 10, 2020)

The life and function of schools go far beyond the school day, and the school experience has shifted dramatically during the past year. Educators and parents have pivoted multiple times to support students through traditional bell-to-bell activities and to adjust to after-school experiences. Moving forward, we need to examine how we return to classrooms, but also how we return students to the full school experience.

In this issue, you will hear from educators, parents, and community organizations as we explore ways the Responsive Classroom approach impacts schools beyond the bell. Some of the featured voices in this issue include Dr. Maureen Marshall, an assistant professor at George Mason University and previously principal of Garfield Elementary School and Stratford Landing; Sean Mims, a seventh-grade history teacher at Brewer Middle School; Lauren Mancini-Komanitsky, a teacher leader and social-emotional learning coach at Christa McAuliffe Middle School; Tina Miller, principal of Howe Elementary School; and Ann Rosen and Stephanie Hooks, co-directors of The Family Connection. We hope you find inspiration and guidance as you look at student life beyond the bell in the future.

Articles in this Issue:

The Space in Between: Transitioning Out of the School Day

Prior to the pandemic, it is likely that we rarely gave much thought to how we transitioned from one setting to the next. We would switch seamlessly from our place of work and its responsibilities to a celebration with friends, and we knew intuitively the social and emotional skills needed to be successful in each…

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Homework: How to Effectively Build the Learning Bridge

How has the global health crisis impacted the place that homework has in student learning and the school-home connection? Homework holds its place as a school tradition, expected by students and their parents as part of the experience of growing and learning. While there is ongoing debate about homework’s effectiveness, it is traditionally seen as…

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Important Benefits of Extracurricular Activities

Have you ever considered the social and emotional benefits that students experience from extracurricular activities? After-school teams and clubs can instill a feeling of confidence and well-being in students that positively influences other areas of their lives. Research has found that “[not] only do extracurricular activities instill great values like teamwork, responsibility, and a sense…

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More School After School? How to Connect Social-Emotional Learning to After-School Programs Using the Responsive Classroom Approach

When students participate in community and on-site after-school programs, they may be in the same building or community setting but with adults and expectations different from the school day. After-school programs are vital to meeting the needs of many school-age students and their families, and the ongoing challenges of the global health crisis have not…

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Don’t Take It Home: Creating a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Teaching can be stressful. Over the last year, with the addition of virtual classrooms, hybrid classrooms, and socially distanced classrooms, teaching became even more stressful. Before the pandemic, teachers worked long hours creating lesson plans, grading papers, and volunteering for after-school tutoring, sports, or other activities. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia completed a study…

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Spotlight On: The Family Connection

The Family Connection of St. Joseph County is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood programs in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Through the Early Years Count Education Initiative, The Family Connection coordinates with the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County to support early childhood programs with teacher training, program and classroom…

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