Over the past dozen years, the Community Foundation’s work in early childhood education has helped thousands of preschoolers in our community start school ready to learn. Working with the Family Connection, the Community Foundation’s Early Years Count initiative has trained hundreds of preschool teachers and program staff in the nationally-recognized HighScope curriculum, providing on-site mentoring and classroom materials. Through this, we’ve transformed our county’s Head Start program, turning it into one of the strongest in the state. We’ve also made HighScope training available to teachers with our local registered ministries—church-based child care centers that serve some of our community’s most vulnerable students.
Through Responsive Classroom, we’ve taken the next logical step: We’ve begun providing professional development and support to elementary teachers, too.
This research- and evidence-based approach, which emphasizes building strong, respectful relationships among peers, has been tremendously successful in greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate. The best thing about Responsive Classroom is that it’s not a new system of teaching; rather, it’s an approach that incorporates methods that many of our best teachers are already using.
Responsive Classroom teaches social skills as well as academic skills, addressing the concerns of many parents about their children’s social development. Through the teacher’s use of positive language and specific activities that encourage peer interaction and personal responsibility, Responsive Classroom helps students become active, invested members of their classroom communities, reducing bullying and related behaviors.
Currently, Responsive Classroom is being used in nearly all of the elementary schools in the South Bend Community School Corporation.