Social and Academic Effects of the Responsive Classroom
For young children, learning to work cooperatively with others is an important part of the learning that goes on in the classroom. Unfortunately, with increased pressure from state standards and tests, the limited time spent in the classroom feels inadequate to teach academics and social and emotional skills. While attention is paid primarily to academic instruction, the import of social skills on a student's academic success should not be discounted. Scientific research links students' social and emotional adjustment and their academic performance. Early social and emotional intervention positively affect academic achievement, and achievement patterns are often consistent as children grow. The Responsive Classroom (RC) is a teaching approach that seeks to influence social, emotional, and academic attainment in elementary and middle school students. The belief that social and academic learning go hand-in-hand drives the program. Its framework consists of several elements from common meeting times to cooperative learning opportunities. Started in the early 1980s, it is a well-recognized program among groups concerned with the social/emotional development of students. Several studies have been and are currently being conducted to determine the value of The Responsive Classroom. RC can be thought of as a framework rather than a curriculum. This framework offers tools and techniques for communication with students, classroom management, and learning contexts. With limited experience with the program I became curious about its claims. I found RC's theoretical base to be supported by well-established developmental psychology, from Maslow, to Piaget, to Gardner. Upon review of research on the social and academic lives of children and Responsive Classroom studies, the approach impresses me as one that would benefit students' lives both socially and academically. The research supports schools and classrooms that closely follow the program. More work should be done to gain a better perspective on the scope of Responsive Classroom's effect on schools, classrooms, and students.