• 30°

Learning to listen: teachers train for responsive classrooms

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — What if a teacher could stop a behavior problem before it ever starts? Diffusing situations early on is one of the goals of a responsive classroom approach to teaching. Local middle school teachers have been studying the philosophy all week at a professional development session in the Wallace Educational Forum.

At its core, responsive classrooms are about training teachers to create an optimal learning environment where all of a student’s needs can be met – where the whole child is addressed.

“It’s a teacher’s approach on how we can build a sense of . . . belonging,” Michelle Benson, responsive classroom consultant, said.

It’s not a specific program, Erwin Middle School Assistant Principal Jessica Allen said, it’s a retraining of teaching styles.

And a huge part of that is language – teaching teachers to think carefully and critically about their words and tone, and how that affects the way students view them.

“And that takes practice,” Allen said.

In practice, responsive classrooms look something like teachers and students knowing everyone’s name, and taking time to acknowledge each other every day. It may look like a classroom activity that builds trust, or “brain-break” activities to get students up and moving. It looks like self-paced learning, and teaching self-control by modeling. It looks like clear and open communication, and fostering a sense of community.

“If we’re having behavior issues, well, is it a behavior issue or is it an expectation we haven’t been clear about?” Renee Fox, a teacher taking the training asked.

For Allen, it’s about teachers in her school building, a place where students feel safe.

“Adolescents have a rough time of it and are scared of taking risks,” she said.

But using a responsive classroom philosophy, a teacher can build an environment where a student feels confident taking academic risks.

Teachers from the four middle schools that took part in this week’s training will take what they’ve learned back to their schools, and try to educate their peers. Fox said the training gave a logical process and sequence to all the parts of teaching she had already learned – it was like putting the pieces together, instead of “just one more thing to do.” Mark Sells, a teacher at Southeast Middle, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the process.

While Allen said implementing the full philosophy within a school would take more than a year — and longer than that, system-wide — its impact would be visible by the second day.

“If they just use a piece, it will radically change their learning environment,” Allen said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

Comments

Local

Human Relations Council starts day of service, adopts park as part of MLK celebration

Local

Hickory volunteers donate backpacks filled with essential items, sleeping mats to Salisbury VA

Local

City to hear priorities for 2021 Federal Action Plan, approve use of $200,000 HUD grant

Crime

Blotter: Woman faces drug, child abuse charges

Coronavirus

County averaging 118 new COVID-19 cases per day in 2021

News

Political Notebook: Rep. Sasser to chair NC House Health committee in second term

Ask Us

Ask Us: COVID-19 vaccination events have required adaptations, brought frustration

Local

38th Winter Flight Run moves to Mt. Ulla

Local

Cherry, Duren honored during all-virtual MLK celebration

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man charged with statutory rape

Nation/World

Heavy fortified statehouses around the US see small protests

Local

Human Relations Council honors Martin Luther King Jr. with modified fair

Local

Local lawmakers talk priorities for 2020-21 legislative session

Business

From a home office to a global company, Integro Technologies celebrates 20th anniversary

Lifestyle

‘Quarantine Diaries’ — Jeanie Moore publishes book as ‘foundation of stories for my family’

Business

‘It pays for itself:’ Study shows economic impact of Mid-Carolina Regional Airport

News

Gov. Cooper sending another 100 National Guard members to Washington

Local

Rowan County set rainfall record in 2020

News

Former, current congressmen for Rowan County opposed second impeachment

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber prepares for January Power in Partnership program

Education

Essie Mae holding COVID-19 testing Monday, recognizes honor Roll

Local

County will have hearing on new ordinance about feeding large animal carcasses to domestic animals

Business

Complaints to BBB up 36% in 2020

Nation/World

Some in GOP talk of chance for coming civil war