Ms. Kelly Kosefeski, our Grades K – 6 reading specialist, has taught in six schools across four states, and her teaching philosophy remains that students need to know that you care before they care what you think. Here, she explains the Responsive Classroom approach used in the Learning Village.
It’s that quiet buzz you hear first thing in the morning as all our students gather on the rug to welcome and BE welcomed by one another. Sometimes it whispers, and often it laughs aloud; every child, every morning, enveloped, embraced, and celebrated in classrooms.
Responsive Classroom is used across the nation and is a research-based way of teaching designed to improve students’ academic skills and to enhance instructional quality. Morning Meetings provide the perfect opportunity to make the connections that build students’ sense of belonging. Students greet each other by name, welcome every voice, and recognize one another’s presence to build meaningful relationships that allow them to know and be known by others.
“Knowing students” means knowing who they are and what is important to them. It means knowing their challenges and recognizing opportunities for growth. We need to know more than just how they do on tests and assignments. We need to know where they come from, what they value, and to use these pieces of their stories to help guide them and grow them as learners. When we take the opportunity to know our students in this way, we can create learning opportunities and build an active learning community.
The Responsive Classroom approach recognizes that all students have social-emotional needs that must be met before academic learning can take place. At St. Anne’s-Belfield School, classroom and School-wide practices like Morning Meeting, Hopes and Dreams, collaborative problem solving, and choice, are just a snapshot of many deliberate practices that create a classroom environment that feels safe, challenged, and joyful. Parent Partnership meetings are designed for teachers and parents to work together as a team from the very beginning with one goal in mind: Help students have a successful school year. Forging strong connections with parents is an ongoing process—and it begins with the first days and weeks of school. Knowing students and families enables teachers to make their teaching more engaging, relevant and appropriate for each child.