Responsive Classroom®

Sayre School adopted the innovative Responsive Classroom® approachin the fall of 2011. Developed by the nonprofit Northeast Foundation for Children, the Responsive Classroom® approach has an impressive track record in improving student performance and building a safe and positive school climate. Thousands of schools nationwide and in Canada have trained their teachers in the research-backed methodology, which increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction.


In the summer of 2011, 25 teachers from the Preschool and Lower School attended an intensive, week-long institute where they learned key Responsive Classroom® practices. The core idea of the approach is that the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum because children learn best through social interaction. The approach—which seeks to create a safe, joyful and challenging learning environment for every child—has several distinctive features. These include Morning Meeting (in which classes gather each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead), positive teacher language (in which teachers use words and tone to promote children’s active learning and self-discipline), and positive approaches to student discipline.

The Responsive Classroom® approach has been praised by leading education experts such as Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman, who says that “the Responsive Classroom® approach creates an ideal environment for learning—every teacher should know about it.”

The Social and Emotional Learning Study, a three-year longitudinal study completed in 2004 by Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, found that children achieved higher test scores and other significant benefits when teachers used the Responsive Classroom® approach. The positive results from that study prompted the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to award Dr. Rimm-Kaufman’s team nearly $3 million for The Responsive Classroom Efficacy Study. Completed in 2010, this three-year randomized controlled trial involved 24 schools and emphasized the effect of the Responsive Classroom approach on math teaching and learning.

To learn more about the Responsive Classroom® approach, visit

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