Responsive Classroom and School Counseling

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A few summers ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend a week long training on Responsive Classroom. Besides sharing what I learned with other faculty and staff at my school, I try my best to implement these practices into my Life Skills lessons.

Some key facts about RC:

  • Comprised of three interconnected parts: Engaging Academics, Effective Management, and Positive Community
  • Focus on child development
  • High importance on teacher language (reinforcing statements, reminding statements/questions, and redirecting statements)
  • Uses logical consequences (including ‘take a break’) instead of punishment
  • Emphasizes the importance of movement and academic choice
  • Uses interactive modeling (as opposed to ‘show and tell’ modeling) for routines, procedures, social skills, and academic processes

The most major way that I incorporate RC into the school counseling program is through providing teachers with Morning Meeting greetings, shares, activities, and messages that reinforce the Life Skills lessons or target specific class issues. More on this in future posts!

The other simple way I incorporate RC into the school counseling program is by including a spot for interactive modeling and a spot for academic choice or movement into my lesson plan template. Seeing those concepts every time I write a lesson reminds me to include them. Here’s my template:


Responsive classroom lesson plan template for counseling program

*The spot for “MNPS Student Characteristic(s)” is something specific to my school district. School counselors create action plans every month to show how we’ve done something to develop each of five characteristics students need to have when they leave our school.

Interactive modeling has the following components: provide context for the skill you’re going to model, model the skill (without commentary), ask the students what they noticed, have another student model, ask the students what they noticed, have all students practice. I’ve used or will use interactive modeling for:

  • walking to the rug from their desks
  • using ‘talk it out’ or ‘ignore’ in conflict resolution
  • deep breathing to regulate strong feelings
  • sharing ideas in a group

Here’s an outline for what interactive modeling might look like for deep breathing:


Responsive classroom interactive modeling for deep breathing outline

I also try to include either academic choice or movement into the lessons. Below are some examples of each.


Responsive classroom academic choice examples

And last but not least, I try to use teacher language whenever I’m in the classroom, cafeteria, hallway, etc. (pretty much anywhere but my office). I do this partly to model for other teachers in the school and partly because I truly believe it is working to improve behavior. For more information on teacher language in a Responsive Classroom, I recommend checking out the RC website and the book The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn by Paula Denton.


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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
elementary school counseling,
I get to serve in a different way now
– by helping fellow counselors and

I value quality over quantity,
effective practices and resources,
and meeting the unique needs of all
our diverse learners.


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