Tier I

Responsive Classroom

The Madison Public Schools believes teaching social-emotional skills is just as important as teaching academic content. Therefore, upon the recommendation of the Whole Child Wellness Team, we have adopted The Responsive Classroom approach for all classrooms grades K-8. This model is in direct alignment with what we know about effective social-emotional supports…

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

The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is comprised of a set of evidence-based practices intended to create a safe, joyful, and engaging classroom and school community. The emphasis is on providing students with a learning environment that is developmentally responsive to their strengths and needs. In order to be successful in and out of school, students need to learn a set of social and emotional competencies—cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control—and a set of academic competencies—academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors.

We do this through four key domains:

Engaging Academics
Teachers create learning tasks that are active, interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students' interests.
Positive Community
Adults 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
Adults create a calm, orderly environment that promotes autonomy and allows students to focus on learning.
Developmentally Responsive Teaching
Adults use knowledge of child development, along with observations of students, to create a developmentally appropriate learning environment.

All classroom teachers in grade K-8 are fully trained in this model, and we continue to receive training and feedback through Responsive Classroom consultants to inform and improve our practice.