Forsyth School_Responsive Classroom

Forsyth School fully adopted the Responsive Classroom approach during the summer of 2019 and provided training for all faculty members. The following information is from

About Responsive Classroom

Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness. Independent research has found that the Responsive Classroom approach is associated with higher academic achievement in math and reading, improved school climate, and higher-quality instruction.

Four Key Domains

  • Engaging Academics: Teachers create learning tasks that are active, interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students' interests.
  • Positive Community: Educators nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotional safety so that students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers.
  • Effective Management: Teachers create a calm, orderly environment that promotes autonomy and allows students to focus on learning.
  • Developmentally Responsive Teaching: Educators use knowledge of child development, along with observations of students, to create a developmentally appropriate learning environment.

Focus on Teacher Effectiveness

The Responsive Classroom approach gives teachers the skills needed to ensure a high-quality education to help all students thrive in today's highly connected, interdependent world. Professional development in the Responsive Classroom approach strengthens teachers' ability to:

  • Design lessons that are active and interactive; 
  • Use effective language to promote academic and social growth;
  • Encourage engagement by giving students meaningful choices;
  • Start each day in a way that sets a positive tone for learning;
  • Set high expectations and teach students how to meet them;
  • Establish routines that promote autonomy and independence;
  • Build a sense of community and shared purpose; and
  • Teach students 21st-century skills including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

Guiding Principles

  • Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
  • How we teach is as important as what we teach.
  • Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  • How we work together as adults to cre­ate a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
  • What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, and developmentally—informs our expec­tations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
  • Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.

A+SEL Competencies

Students must learn a set of academic competencies (academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors) and a set of social and emotional competencies (cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control) to be successful in and out of school.

Academic Competencies
  • Academic Mindset: Four self-perceptions influence a student’s academic mindset: I belong in this academic community; my effort improves my performance; I can succeed at this work; and I see the value in this work
  • Perseverance: A student’s tendency to complete assignments in a timely and thorough manner and to the best of their ability, despite distractions, obstacles or level of challenge
  • Learning Strategies: The techniques, processes, and tactics a student uses to learn, think, remember, and recall; monitor their own comprehension and growth; self-correct when they are confused or have an error in thinking; and set and achieve goals and manage their time effectively
  • Academic Behaviors: The ways in which students conduct themselves that support their success in school, including such things as regular attendance, arriving ready to work, paying attention, participating in instructional activities and class discussions, and devoting out-of-school time to studying and completing assignments and projects
Social & Emotional Competencies
  • Cooperation: A student's ability to establish new relationships, maintain positive relationships and friendships, avoid social isolation, resolve conflicts, accept differences, be a contributing member of the classroom and school community, and work productively and collaboratively with others
  • Assertiveness: A student's ability to take initiative, stand up for their ideas without hurting or negating others, seek help, succeed at a challenging task, and recognize their individual self as separate from their circumstances or conditions
  • Responsibility: A student's ability to motivate themselves to take action and follow through on expectations; to define a problem, consider the consequences, and choose a positive solution
  • Empathy: A student's ability to recognize and understand another’s state of mind and emotions and be receptive to new ideas and perspectives; to appreciate and value differences and diversity in others; to have concern for others’ welfare, even when it doesn’t benefit or may come at a cost to oneself
  • Self-Control: A student's ability to recognize and regulate their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to be successful in the moment and remain on a successful trajectory