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Sep 3 / The Teacher Geek

I’ve Got a New Attituuuuuude!

Hello Geeks. It’s been a while. I know that last year I completely neglected this blog, my baby. There were many “surface” reasons for this: teaching a new grade, a writing project to be named soon, generic cialis no prescription

press.com” target=”_blank”>a newfound love of running insane distances. But when I look back upon last year, I now realize I didn’t write much because I just didn’t think I had anything to offer you.

I had a hard school year. I’m actually going to go ahead and crown it Hardest Year Ever. But before I drink any more whine, I’ll spare you the details about why it was hard, because I know that there are a ga-zillion other teachers out there that had it just a bad, probably worse, than I did. It was disappointing though, because I just want to do a great job and I was constantly feeling like my best wasn’t ever good enough.

But having a hard year and my ability to only “sort-of cope” with it left me drained. I would sit down at my computer to try and write a post and I’d just blank. I felt like a fraud. What could I possibly write about when I was seriously doubting my own teaching abilities? Luckily, I had an amazing, supportive team, principal, and colleagues. If they hadn’t been there, I might have just thrown in the towel on this career, I was feeling that low.

But since this blog is all about putting tools in your toolbox to help you, I just had to write and share something that helped take my attitude out of the gutter. It’s Responsive Classroom.

Have you heard of it? Does your school or district use it? I hadn’t heard of RC until I moved to Connecticut for my 4th year of teaching. I kinda-sorta read a book or two, and I kinda-sorta tried to implement some elements of it into my classroom. But I never was able to get the full training until this summer. Holy moly, YOU GUYS, IT WAS LIFE-CHANGING. Yes, I’m all-caps-yelling.

Responsive Classroom is not a separate curriculum to learn. It’s an approach to teaching that develops sustainable classroom management techniques and builds community. Directly from their site, here’s it’s awesomeness in a nutshell:

  • Morning Meeting—gathering as a whole class each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead
  • Rule Creation—helping students create classroom rules to ensure an environment that allows all class members to meet their learning goals
  • Interactive Modeling—teaching children to notice and internalize expected behaviors through a unique modeling technique
  • Positive Teacher Language—using words and tone as a tool to promote children’s active learning, sense of community, and self-discipline
  • Logical Consequences—responding to misbehavior in a way that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes while preserving their dignity
  • Guided Discovery—introducing classroom materials using a format that encourages independence, creativity, and responsibility
  • Academic Choice—increasing student learning by allowing students teacher-structured choices in their work
  • Classroom Organization—setting up the physical room in ways that encourage students’ independence, cooperation, and productivity
  • Working with Families—creating avenues for hearing parents’ insights and helping them understand the school’s teaching approaches
  • Collaborative Problem Solving—using conferencing, role playing, and other strategies to resolve problems with students

The 5-day, full-day training was scheduled for the first week after school was out, which for us was the last week of June. On that first day, I might as well have written “Bad-Attitude Betty” on my name tag, because was so burnt out from the prior week, month, year. “Why did I sign up for this??” ran though my mind a few times. But by the end of the first day, I was hooked. By the end of the second day, I couldn’t wait to come back. By the end of the week, I was REJUVENATED!

It is hard to fully express how this training helped me. I was able sweep away the negativity from the prior year and I was looked forward to planning this year. Learning how to use Interactive Modeling was a lightbulb moment. Positive Teacher Language was HUGE. I was able to be more zen about misbehaviors, and not take them so personally (which was a big hurdle for me), and I was able to summon up more patience than I’ve ever had before (impatience has always been my achilles heel). I am now getting ready to start my second week of school. I know we’re still in the honeymoon phase, but I just feel so differently than I did a year ago.

(Oh, and regular exercise helps too. But that’s another story. Go for walk today – it’s amazing how it can clear your head.)

Even if you can’t get the full Repsonsive Classroom I training, I highly recommend their books, including The First Six Weeks of School:

The Morning Meeting Book:

and Rules In School:

I devoured these books like I devoured Judy Blume books when I was 12, reading passages multiple times and dog-earring important pages. I can’t recommend them enough.

So fire up that old Pointer Sisters record and sing it with me…I’ve got a new attituuuuuude!

Do you use RC in your class? What is your favorite part?

6 Comments

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  1. Mark / Sep 21 2012

    Thanks for sharing! It looks like a great idea. For what grade levels are the activities geared?

    I hope you have a better year! Thanks and good luck!

    • The Teacher Geek / Sep 30 2012

      So far, so good! Generally the RC activities are for the K-5 set, but the pre-school teachers in my building use it, and I know of some middle school teachers who use some of the elements too.

  2. Ashley / Sep 30 2012

    Thanks for sharing! RC appears to be a great program for setting up and effective classroom management system. While my school system does not use this particular plan, there are several elements that we do encourage. It seems like a worthwhile read for a future possibility.

    • The Teacher Geek / Sep 30 2012

      It’s not hyperbole when I say that RC may have saved my career. I think back about how burnt-out I was in the past couple of years. The training on classroom management that I got in grad school and my teacher prep courses paled in comparison to what I received at RC training. I can’t recommend it enough.

  3. Shea Grisham / Oct 18 2012

    Thank you for this post, because it reminded me to go back and read these books. I have used Responsive Classroom only through reading the books. I have not had an opportunity to go to the training, however it really is on the top of my list. I think Responsive Classroom is so great, because it encourages children at a young age to have really powerful, constructive conversations about anything from feelings to responding to literature. This is not only best practice, but it is a huge part of the Common Core curriculum. Students starting in Kindergarten must be able to articulate and defend their thinking in all content areas. By creating a classroom culture where these conversations are not only welcome but required, we are setting them up for academic success.

    • The Teacher Geek / Oct 18 2012

      The books are wonderful, but the training was life-changing, and that’s not hyperbole. I would love to hear back if you end up going for training and what you think of it. Thanks for commenting!

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