Thursday, September 13, 2012

Differentiating Responsive Classroom

When I was a first grade classroom teacher I didn't know how to teach without following Responsive Classroom's structure and philosophy. I followed it closely and truly believed in it's tenets. The books and workshops have made me a much better teacher.

Now that I'm back in my own classroom I find myself falling back to the RC methods frequently. Although my children are considered part of the "Intellectual Disabilities Program" and all have IEPs I find that Responsive Classroom still makes the most sense in how to open a classroom, set up routines and expectations. In fact, in some ways it makes even more sense than it does in the general education curriculum.

I follow the First Six Weeks of School pretty closely, and it's perfect for my children. We need to slowly open up our classroom together- learning how we'll use glue, pencils, markers, crayons and paper. We need to practice our routines, develop our class rules together and build a strong community. 

Most importantly, we need to learn to work independently. Many of my students are use to people doing things for them. They may take more time to complete an activity that other kids their age can do quickly so typically teachers and friends just go ahead and do it for them to speed things along or help them out. Because of that most of them will happily let you do anything for them- and aren't really excited to work by themselves. My entire goal in these first few weeks is to teach everyone that we work independently.

(Of course, when I was a general education first grade teacher that was my goal as well. Typical six year olds need that practice just as much as my current kiddos.)

Morning Meeting is essential for my kiddos with Intellectual Disabilities. It sets the tone for the day and naturally embeds teaching those social skills like eye contact, shaking hands, using a loud voice, and smiling when you talk to someone. Morning meetings pretty much run the same in my ID classroom as they did in my gen ed classroom. Same social skills expectations, same structure, same amount of fun.

I plan to keep tracking how I use and differentiate the typical RC experiences in an ID classroom.  

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