I've written about Responsive Classroom often over the years. As a classroom teacher I lived and breathed Responsive Classroom. I read all the books, went to as many trainings as I could, and worked hard on making my classroom as RC as possible. I did this not because I was trying to be a groupy, but because through my teacher eyes I saw that it worked. If I followed RC then my life was easier. I was putting out less fires and I was teaching more.
But that was through my teaching lens.
My daughter just started a new preschool and she's ridiculously happy with life. The change in her at the end of the day is noticeable. She's calmer and yet has more energy than she did two weeks ago at her old preschool. We loved her old preschool, and so did she, so it seems strange that we would see this shift in her at the end of the day. As she described what she did in school one day I made comments to my husband that this new school was "Very RC". He of course has no idea what this means, so just nodded in agreement. Then I read her teacher notes from the day and felt this was all very familiar. I've taught this before... not in preschool, but this structure, this plan. I could almost tell you what was coming next. Yesterday morning I walked in to see the blue First Six Weeks of School book sitting on a table, tabbed and well-loved. When I asked her teacher about it she beamed. Yes, it's what she's been using, every year. She loves it. (Of course she does. Anyone who has used it loves it.)
For the first time I'm seeing Responsive Classroom through a parent's lens. I'm seeing how my daughter appreciates the slow, deliberate nature in how everything is introduced in her classroom. She knows what the rules are and what to expect on a daily basis. She has more energy at the end of the day because she hasn't spent her energy anxiously trying to interpret what is going on in the classroom and what will be expected of her. But it is a calm energy. She has the energy to re-count her day, tell me what she learned, model how to line up, and how to be a "good schoolmate". Before she had good days at school but she came home and crashed. She was exhausted from trying to teach herself the social curriculum.
While we loved her other school and her teachers, we did not know what the world could be with a little Responsive Classroom in place. I feel like I am re-discovering RC in a whole new light. I want to preach from the rooftops, yes, yes, yes! People, this doesn't just work because it is a trend or a program or something to do because the school system suggested it. It is a way to talk to kids to get them ready to learn. To help them feel secure and safe in their learning environment.