Responsive Language

Responsive Language
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Author: Jane Kullmann and Lacy Chapman

Early Childhood Principal and Lower School Principal at ACS Cobham

Following our recent blog post on Responsive Classroom at ACS Cobham, we wanted to share with you a break down of Responsive Language – one of the key elements working within the Responsive Classroom approach.

To recap – Responsive Classroom (RC) is an approach to teaching that empowers students, through methods that allow them to be a part of their own learning. This is demonstrated through an increase in student choice, collaboration between students and teachers in forming class rules and an awareness of students developmental age.

Teacher language is an important part of RC, and can be broken into three categories: reinforcing, reminding and redirecting language.

Reinforcing language

Reinforcing language is used often – teachers are encouraged to highlight what their students are doing right and encourage positive behaviour.

Reminding Language

RC directs teachers to remind students who go off track of the expectations they have for them, as though they know the students can achieve what they require. Wording remains positive, for example, a student might be asked, ‘keep your feet to yourself’ rather than ‘stop kicking the chair’. In another circumstance, instead of ‘don’t run’ an RC teacher might say ‘we walk inside the building’.

Redirecting language

If students remain off track after being reminded, RC teachers use redirecting language. While this language is more direct, teachers still do not engage in a power struggle. An RC teacher might state: ‘I’ve noticed you’re still running inside the building so you need to take a break’.

As part of managing their own behaviour, students need their teachers to draw boundaries sometimes. In the above response, ‘take a break’ does not sound punitive, unlike ‘time out’, which may sound so to some students. Taking a break gives students the opportunity for them to take control of themselves. There is a specific area of each classroom away from the group that the students have helped to design themselves, often with a poster about what to do – for example, take a deep breath, count to ten and imagine yourself in a peaceful place.

Taking a unanimous step toward implementing Responsive Classroom and Responsive Language across Early Childhood and Lower School at ACS Cobham has resulted in a powerful success story, as all our students are sharing the same experience.

Jane Kullmann and Lacy Chapman

Early Childhood Principal and Lower School Principal at ACS Cobham

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