Welcome to kindergarten! I am looking forward to starting a new school year with the fresh faces of excited learners. The growth of kindergartners from September to June is amazing. The academic gains children make are truly remarkable. Besides that, children this age are getting more independent and learning how to have positive interactions with both their peers and adults. Learning how to act appropriately within the classroom community is something that is essential for a safe and productive school environment.
The Responsive Classroom (RC) is an approach to teaching and learning that fosters safe, challenging and joyful classrooms and schools.
Developed by classroom teachers, it consists of practical strategies for bringing together social and academic learning throughout the school day. The Responsive Classroom approach helps create learning environments where children thrive socially, academically and emotionally. I use RC in my kindergarten classroom because these methods contribute to a safe and welcoming school community.
Children learn how to better monitor their behavior using the Responsive Classroom approach. The ultimate goal of discipline is that children will be in control of their own behavior and act in an ethical manner. This skill comes like that of responsibility. In order to be in control of yourself, you must have many opportunities to truly practice the skills that are involved. The opportunities need to come in small increments that are manageable and will lead to success.
In being proactive, teachers make sure children understand what is expected and give many opportunities to practice before their students are expected to do soon their own. The reward for ethical behavior is intrinsic—the good, proud feeling inside that we experience after having done the “right thing.”
However, there will be times when problems arise and children may need redirection. Using Responsive Classroom methods, children learn about logical consequences and strategies for managing their own behavior.
When a child is off-task or disruptive, he or she will be asked to “Take a Break” in the classroom. This is not meant as a punishment. It is simply an opportunity for the child to reflect on his or her behavior, regain self-control and then rejoin the group. A child may take several of these short breaks (5 minutes or less) during the day, either directed by the teacher or (eventually) as a personal choice to regain control. The goal is that the child is able to refocus before joining the group again.
Usually the “Take a Break” technique is used less as the year progresses and children better understand classroom expectations. However, every child will likely need to “Take a Break” at some point, so don’t be alarmed if your child tells you that this has happened at school.
If a student continues to disrupt the class or refuses to follow directions he or she will be directed to the "Buddy Room."
Usually the “Buddy Room” is the next closest available classroom. The “Buddy Room” helps a child who needs a short separation from his or her classmates in order to think about how to fix the problem, refocus and get back on track. A child will spend about 10 minutes in a “Buddy Room” before the teacher meets with him or her for a brief behavior conference. The child’s teacher decides when the child is ready to leave the “Buddy Room” and return to the classroom.
If a child continues to disrupt after visiting the “Buddy Room” I will notify his or her parents. I will call the child’s parent(s) or send an e-mail or written note home describing the behavior issue. I will inform parents if there are further consequences at school for the misbehavior. Parents will be asked to sign any notes sent home so that I know that mom and/or dad have discussed the behavior incident with their child.
The principal will be informed of any serious issues, such as behaviors that are very dangerous or that involve significant injury to another person, in which case an appropriate consequence will be given. There is rarely a need to use these measures, but I want you to know the progression of procedures that are used for behavior management.
Ultimately, all children want to be good and want to do well. I look forward to working with each child as we build a community of learners where everyone develops socially, academically and emotionally. We are a Responsive Classroom!
If you want to learn more about Responsive Classroom, visit www.originsonline.org.