As an Ashoka Changemaker School, we work to cultivate empathy, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving in our students; our whole school morning meetings and “buddy classes” are part of those efforts. Through a partnership with Flamboyan, Maury has also implemented home visits by teachers for all grades to encourage a collaborative and trusting approach to support student learning.
In the classroom, teachers use the Responsive Classroom model which recognizes that social-emotional skills are as important as academic skills. This year, we have also added the Second Step curriculum to give teachers additional ways to support social and emotional learning. In the upper grades, programs like Mindfulness and Roots of Empathy provide developmentally-appropriate tools for improving self-regulation and encouraging empathy.
Created by classroom teachers and backed by evidence from independent research, the Responsive Classroom model is based on the premise that children learn best when they have both academic and social-emotional skills. The approach consists of classroom and schoolwide practices for deliberately helping children build academic and social-emotional competencies within a strong and safe school community.
Guiding principles. Seven principles guide the Responsive Classroom approach:
- The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
- How children learn is as important as what they learn: Process and content go hand in hand.
- The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- To be successful academically and socially, children need a set of social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
- Knowing the children we teach—individually, culturally, and developmentally—is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing the families of the children we teach and working with them as partners is essential to children’s education.
- How the adults at school work together is as important as their individual competence: Lasting change begins with the adult community.
Everyone within the Maury community is expected to treat one another with kindness and respect. Adults are expected to model for children, and children are expected to take their social responsibilities seriously, as dictated by age-appropriateness. Name-calling and bullying, for example, are not accepted at Maury.
Maury teachers handle disciplinary matters within their own classrooms, through conflict resolution and peer mediation techniques utilized for handling normal behavioral problems. If problems persist, the teacher will inform parents, and then access further resources via the guidance counselor and the principal. It is imperative in these cases that channels of communication remain open, and that parents make themselves available to discuss potential solutions.