Bringing Responsive Classroom to Abu Dhabi

Go Back to Journal

Raha International School

  • Khalifa City ‘A’, Abu Dhabi
  • Private K-12 international school
  • Implementing Responsive Classroom since 2018

The Raha International School in Abu Dhabi utilizes the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum in grades K–12. We have over 2,000 students from more than 80 countries around the world representing 45 languages. Because of our wide multicultural representation, our goal is to promote a positive school culture throughout the educational community so that all faculty, staff, and especially students feel safe and welcome. As the Assistant Head of Primary, I and my fellow administrators were looking for a way to better incorporate our school’s vision into the school community as a whole. Our vision statements reflect our commitment to create an educational environment that embraces and promotes international acceptance and cooperation: “To fulfill dreams by providing an exceptional educational journey, ensuring individual success in an ever-changing global context” and “To develop a global community whose members are: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, reflective.”

We realized that we needed to find techniques and approaches to create an inclusive school community that the school leadership could believe in and support while also keeping in mind the high cost incurred by training the entire staff of an international school. We researched and tried a variety of disciplinary strategies and techniques until we discovered the social and emotional learning structure of the Responsive Classroom approach.

Beginning in 2016, we worked to implement Responsive Classroom techniques and started to train our educators in the Responsive Classroom approach so that they could properly integrate it inside and outside of the classroom and create a positive community that would expand throughout the entire school culture. I took both the Elementary Core Course and the Elementary Advanced Course as we began to implement the Responsive Classroom approach, and a few of our educators also took the Elementary Core Course. By the time our school hosted a Responsive Classroom institute in 2018, we had more than 30 staff members trained in the Responsive Classroom approach. Currently, we have implemented it in grades K–5.

After only a couple of years using the Responsive Classroom approach in the primary grades, there has been a tremendous positive change in the school’s overall culture, and now the mission and vision of the school are actively represented throughout the school community. We have seen a drop in students’ negative behavior, higher academic scores, and more student interest in the classroom. The greatest factor in our school’s success can be attributed to the implementation of Morning Meeting, which we discovered was a perfect opportunity to give students a global perspective. For example, during the initial greeting, students learn to use and properly pronounce each other’s name. They also learn how to greet each other in different languages to help them better understand the places around the world where their classmates are from (Keenan, 2018).

The faculty, staff, and students are more positive and caring toward one another because they feel valued and secure in the school environment. In general, students and staff are happier and more motivated, and the relationships between staff, students, and even parents has improved. Responsive Classroom strategies and methods have been a great fit and an excellent addition to our school community.


  • Keenan, V. (2018, January 30). Morning meetings in a PYP classroom. The Sharing PYP Blog.