August News 2014

A warm wind blows if…

Last night we had a record number of parent meetings. In fact, with the exception of our annual mandatory parent meeting (which is coming up next month on September 30, 7-9pm) we had the most parent meetings in one night. Nine classes were meeting all over campus. It was fun to see so many new and returning faces! Good food, warm laughter, engaging conversations all lead to a great community. It’s really as simple…and complex…as that. 

If you weren’t able to attend your class meeting earlier, please be sure that you are there for the rest of the meetings. They are so important for you, your child, and all of the children in class. Each meeting, we cover many topics from aiding, curriculum, field trips, parenting, and what to expect with your child. When you are there, it increases your understanding of what is happening in the classroom, what to expect in the month ahead, and it helps us all build the community. Your voice and your presence are important. 

On that note, I wanted to comment on one of the most hilarious parent class meetings, I’ve attended in some time.  Sarah’s class kicked off with some snacks and conversations. When I entered the room they were transitioning to an activity, “A warm wind blows if“… Many of you have played it before. It started off calm and reserved. Lots of “Hi’s” and smiles. But something happened about 5 minutes in. Laughter increased…and so did the speed people moved from one chair to the next. In no time at all grown adults were running…and when I say running, I mean sprinting across the classroom! Diving into chairs! And yes even bumping into one another as they jostled for a seat…and I believe at least one person ended up on the floor…It was hilarious!  In the spirit of our focus on writing, E.E. Cummings once said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” Clearly we don’t like wasting days at McAuliffe!


What is Responsive Classroom? 

In a nutshell, “Responsive Classroom (RC) is an evidence-based approach to elementary education that is associated with greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate.” (Responsive Classroom Advanced Course, Effective Management Resource Book, p1 (c) 2014. )

The McAuliffe faculty selected the RC approach because it is aligned with our philosophy and incorporates a developmentally appropriate approach to teaching and learning. In fact, Chip Wood, author of Yard Sticks, was instrumental in the development of Responsive Classroom. 

“The Responsive Classroom approach integrates three areas. [Take a look for yourself to see if the pillars of RC are aligned with our program ]

  • Engaging Academics: Teachers create learning tasks that are active, interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students’ interests. 
  • Effective Management: Teachers create a calm, orderly environment that promotes autonomy and allows students to focus on learning. 
  • Positive Community: Teachers nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotional safety in the classroom. Students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers.” (ibid)

In truth, we have been engaged in this work for more than four decades. Many of our teachers attained “expert” status in these areas long before the first Responsive Classroom trainer set foot on our campus (6 years ago). At the same time, one of the incredible things about our school and our community is the deep understanding that we all continue to grow and learn. 

Responsive Classroom gives us tools to help hone our practice. It provides us with additional resources for engaging students and building community. One example of this is the seamless integration of academic content into our Class Meetings. This fosters continued student inquiry, academic engagement, and community building. It also increases the range of learning opportunities for students.  


Where might we learn more about Responsive Classroom?

Here is a link to their website that includes several informational videos about the program:

But you don’t have to go further than your class meeting to experience it first hand! Last night, I stopped by 6 class meetings, each of them began with an activity to break the ice and welcome you (or welcome you back) to the classroom. Getting to know one another and learning to work with one another in a safe environment is a key element of Responsive Classroom and our program at McAuliffe.  


Sharing RC with the district:

This morning I led a quote activity with many of the administrators in Cupertino Union School District. 

  • With 5 quotes posted around the room, the administrators were asked to find one that resonated most with them and move to that part of the room. Once they arrived at the quote, they were to share in their group what drew them to the quote. 
  • Sound familiar? We do this at McAuliffe all the time! 
  • It was fun and great to see and hear so many people share why quotes resonated with them. Everyone benefits from time to talk and get to know one another! 
  • After they shared out, I suggested a few options that would allow the inclusion of academic components. 


More about Responsive Classroom…

In the weeks and months ahead we will continue to share what we are learning and applying from Responsive Classroom. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher, send me an email, or leave me a note. 




1 Comment

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One response to “August News 2014

  1. Fantastic! Thanks, Rick, for providing a great summary of RC and how it matches our program at McAuliffe!

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