Over Twelve Years of Success in Ohio

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Columbus Academy

  • Gahanna, Ohio
  • Independent PreK-12 school
  • Implementing Responsive Classroom since 2012

More than 12 years ago, at the recommendation of our Head of Lower School at the time, we began to integrate Responsive Classroom strategies in our school. Several of our teachers attended a Responsive Classroom training in 2011, and we hosted the four-day Elementary Core Course for our Lower School teachers in the summer of 2012. Since participating in these immersive and powerful trainings, our teachers and current Head of Lower School have continued to implement many of the Responsive Classroom principles and practices. Last year we were proud to host a four-day Responsive Classroom summer institute here in Gahanna, Ohio, and are planning to host it again this summer, at which time all of our teachers will have been trained.

Because we believe that the language we use, the way we teach and interact with students, and our school’s culture should positively influence each child’s educational experience, we know that the Responsive Classroom approach is the best educational and social-emotional practice for our students. Teachers and administrators alike strongly encourage many of the Responsive Classroom strategies in each classroom and throughout our Lower School, including the competencies of CARES (cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control), Morning Meeting, hopes and dreams, Interactive Modeling, positive teacher language, and logical consequences. For example, students look forward to beginning each day with Morning Meeting and the consistency that this routine provides.

To promote safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and a strong school community, we actively support our educators in continuing their professional development with Responsive Classroom practices and ensure that many resources are available to them. After our initial training in 2012, we were provided a library of resources, which is now housed in our Lower School library so that the resources are easily accessible to our staff. Even teachers who did not attend that training were given a copy of The Power of Our Words and The First Six Weeks of School and encouraged to read them, and we continue to use these books to drive discussions and inform best practices. Teachers have participated in all-school readings of books that focus on various Responsive Classroom topics, and Responsive Classroom articles are sent to our staff almost weekly as part of our “Friday Flash” faculty newsletter. Our library is always updated with the most current literature, and we also have a Responsive Classroom steering committee that offers professional development opportunities and encouragement to keep our educators motivated and inspired.

In an effort to keep parents connected, we have started using the Yardsticks guides, as well as other Responsive Classroom resources and suggestions, at Parent Night and during our first parent-teacher conferences each year. We now have Parent Coffees too, which provide another opportunity to share and discuss our Responsive Classroom model. The introduction of these materials and events have encouraged the formation of positive relationships between parents, teachers, and students, inside and outside the classroom.

The overall climate of the Lower School has become more positive since we began implementing the Responsive Classroom approach. Genuine relationships have formed among students and between students and their teachers. We have a common language and consistent expectations. As a result, there have been fewer behavior issues because students feel a sense of belonging and respond well to our proactive approach to misbehavior. In the classrooms there is a sense of ownership among the students—it’s “their classroom” rather than just the teacher’s classroom.

Each year, we have additional faculty who get excited and want to learn more about the Responsive Classroom approach because the positive results have made them believers. We feel and see the presence of Responsive Classroom in our school each and every day. It has become a way of life for us!