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Contributing Editor: Karen Poplawski, Director of Programs

This journal finds us at the beginning of a school year that will be unlike any that have preceded it. Educators will be asked to deal with the constraints and effects of the current health crisis while also addressing the systemic racism that creates inequity in our school communities. These issues underscore how critical social and emotional learning is, yet the constraints of maintaining social distance or learning virtually will make creating connections with and between students harder than ever before.

These logistical challenges may make teachers feel like there is even less time than usual to get to all the academic content in the curriculum, so it might be tempting to revert to pedagogical practices that focus exclusively on content acquisition. But the entire Responsive Classroom community, including everyone reading this journal, has worked tirelessly to change those practices because we know the power of social and emotional connection and its impact on learning. We know it’s what is best for students.

We hope this journal will be an invaluable resource for the upcoming school year by helping you think about how you can take care of yourself, how you can overcome some of the hurdles you face, and how you can hold fast to what you know is right for students.

Articles in this Issue:


In years past, the end of summer would find students involved in back-to-school rituals—may be shopping for new school supplies or looking forward to seeing their friends and classmates. But this year, COVID-19 has created a profound uncertainty that poses a sharp and disruptive contrast to students’ former experiences. In the past few months, students…

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A Framework for Leading through Crises

School leaders across the nation have been called on in new ways as people in their care seek clarity, reassurance, and direction in a time of global crisis. To discover what others are doing to keep themselves and their staff rejuvenated, I asked Dennis Copeland, principal at Randolph Middle School—a 2019 School to Watch award…

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Teacher Belief Study: Responsive Classroom Course Changes Beliefs That Impact Equity

Introduction Teachers are considered by many to be the centerpiece of educational change (Dat-now & Castellano, 2000). Researchers have observed that teachers must see themselves as the originators of change for school reforms to be effective. Those teachers who find their ideology in line with a new program or curriculum usually support it, whereas others…

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Listening for the Needs Behind the Questions

As I prepare to begin my fourteenth year of teaching, I notice that my usual easeful thoughts of confidence and excitement to welcome a new group of fifth graders have shifted, leaving me feeling much like I did in my first year as I stepped into the great unknown. Perhaps, like me, you are now…

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The P.R.I.D.E. P.A.C.T. Leadership Academy for Girls: Our Leaders for Tomorrow

Mentoring is defined as “the act or process of helping and giving advice to a younger or less experienced person, especially in a job or at school” (Mentoring, n.d.). The evidence in favor of mentoring is overwhelmingly positive, and the influence of solid mentor-mentee relationships has a lasting impact on everyone involved. One special organization,…

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A Conversation with Dr. Mary Black

Desiree Law, Marketing and Communications Project Manager at Center for Responsive Schools, sat down with Dr. Mary Black, Associate Superintendent of Student Support Services for Cumber-land County Schools and co-founder of the P.R.I.D.E. P.A.C.T. Leadership Academy for Girls, a program which serves young girls within their community through the development of key social-emotional skills. We…

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Pricipal's FAQ

Center for Responsive Schools polled a group of school leaders from both public and private schools across the country about their plans for opening their schools. Here’s what we learned. Key contributors:Amy Romem, Elementary PrincipalKelly Harper, 7-8 PrincipalSarah Davis, Middle School Assistant Principal Inna Collier Paske, PreK-8 PrincipalBarb Snare, K-3 PrincipalMichael Connor, Middle School Principal…

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Teacher's FAQ

As schools prepare to open for this upcoming school year in the face of challenges and unknowns, educators everywhere are finding themselves in uncharted territory. In situations like this, where we find ourselves with more questions than answers, it can be helpful to start with what we do know. What we know is the Responsive…

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