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SJCS Perspectives

Building Relationships That Drive Learning

December 4, 2017

SJCS is using the Responsive Classroom approach to teachings.  This past year, almost all of teachers and staff participated in the training. We have made Responsive Classroom the foundation of our learning community. Our commitment to Responsive Classroom comes from the shared belief that social curriculum is equal in significance to academic curriculum. The Northeast Foundation for Children promotes the Responsive Classroom’s fundamental principles and practices, and SJCS  follows the seven Guiding Principles:

  • The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
  • How children learn is as important as what they learn.
  • The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  • There is a specific set of social skills that children need to learn and practice in order to be successful academically and socially: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
  • Knowing the children we teach individually, culturally, and developmentally is as important as knowing the content we teach.
  • Knowing the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children we teach.
  • How, we the adults at school, work together is as important as our individual competence.


The six teaching practices used in a Responsive Classroom are:

  • At a morning meeting that happens each day, students are welcomed with a written message, greeting, news and announcements, sharing, and an activity.
  • Rules are clear, simple, positive, and generated with children. Student hopes and dreams guide rule creation. Logical consequences are a consistent approach to discipline.
  • Classroom organization promotes a caring environment and maximizes learning.
  • Academic choice invests children in their learning.
  • A method known as Guided Discovery  is used to introduce materials and how to care for them, and to encourage inquiry.
  • It is important to reach out to parents as partners in their child’s learning.

A strong school community is central to SJCS  and building the relationships that drive learning. Students, families, and faculty share a sense of place, ownership, and connection in our SJCS Community. Daily classroom morning meetings, whole school T’fillah , and use of common language for expectations and rules,  serve and support our community in numerous ways. We also build community through bringing buddy classes together.  Our primary classes have an older buddy class that joins for special events, for activities, or in joining class meetings.

This year we will use Responsive Classroom techniques to continue developing the core values that make us a strong school; Kavod –  kindness,  Hinuch – learning, where students do their best to learn and support others in their learning, Tikkun Olam  – repairing the world,  and Tikkun Middot – repairing ourselves.

Mary Grace Lentz, Kindergarten General Education Teacher