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Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning

Teachers and staff at Washington Heights Academy are trained in Responsive Classroom*, an approach to teaching that aims to create safe, friendly, supportive classrooms where all children can learn. The Responsive Classroom approach supports our school’s mission and core principles by offering a set of teaching practices that promote academic success and help to build strong, positive relationships among children, teachers and families. Schools across the country use Responsive Classroom, and report these outcomes:

  1. Improved social skills
  2. Increased academic engagement
  3. Positive classroom climate
  4. Greater learner investment and independence
  5. Fewer disruptive behaviors



Responsive Classroom practices that you will see in WHA classrooms include:

Circle Time/Morning Meeting: Teachers lead students in a daily gathering for friendly greetings, sharing of news, having fun together, and warming up for the day of learning ahead.

Creating Rules: Teachers collaborate with students to develop classroom rules that support everyone’s learning. By working with students to create classroom rules, teachers help children learn to think for themselves and act in caring and responsible ways.

Learning that is Active...: Children have time during the day to be active and explore their environment. They have opportunities to make choices, practice and make mistakes while they are learning. Teachers understand children’s need for physical activity, and use movement breaks or “energizers” to help children channel physical energy and refocus for learning.

… and Interactive: Teachers understand that academic learning happens best within a positive social context. Teachers plan lessons that include small group and partner work, and pay lots of attention to teaching positive social skills.

*  This section includes excerpts from Responsive Classroom Introductory Overview Resource Book, Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. 2007. For more information, you can visit the Responsive Classroom website at www.responsiveclassroom.org.