A Message from Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School: September 7
Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School
Hello Lower School Families,
Welcome back to school! It feels so energizing to have students back in the building, and to see more parents in the hallways and entrances this year. We are looking forward to a terrific year of growing and learning together.
As a follow up to last week’s Morning Brew, I’d like to share a bit more about how we are reinvigorating our commitment to Responsive Classroom as a strategic priority this year.

Responsive Classroom is a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching and discipline. It is comprised of a set of research, and evidence-based practices designed to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and school communities for both students and teachers. 
Both in our summer admin work and our faculty in-service, we shared learning, practices, and plans related to our systematic infusion of Responsive Classroom. We are committed to honoring the important principle that in order for students to be most successful, they must develop a set of social and emotional competencies (cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, self control) and a set of academic competencies (academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, academic behaviors). These skills are equally important and corequisite for maximum success.
How might Responsive Classroom show up in your child’s classroom?
  • Morning Meeting: All Lower School students begin the day with a teacher-led morning meeting. Morning Meeting is a community-building way to begin the day, which includes the four purposeful components of Morning Message, Greeting, Sharing, Activity.


  • Interactive Modeling: In order to help students meet expectations and master skills, we engage in intentional modeling with the key elements of modeling positive behaviors, engaging students in active learning, and immediately assessing their understanding. First graders used Interactive Modeling strategies to learn how to use their new lockers.
  • Power of Teacher Language: Teacher language, including  word choice, tone and pacing, is among the most powerful tools we have as educators. Responsive Classroom teaches us to Be Direct and Genuine, Convey Faith in Children’s Abilities and Intentions, Focus on Action, Keep it Brief, and Know When to be Silent. 
    • We try to notice and reinforce positives by using Reinforcing Language: “I notice you followed our rule by pushing in your chair. Thank you for keeping our classroom neat.”
    • We use Reminding Language to help students recall expectations: “How might we be sure everyone feels included?”
    • And we help students who veer off course with Redirecting Language: “When our line is quiet, then we will walk to recess.”
  • Quiet Time: Lower School students have at least one opportunity per day for Quiet Time, a 10-15 minute cognitive and physical breather to ready students for an afternoon of learning. It is a reset for both body and mind, and includes quiet, independent activities like resting, reading, drawing, building, or puzzling. 
  • Guided Discovery: Guided Discovery is a teaching strategy used to introduce new materials in a classroom. The primary goal is to generate interest and excitement about classroom resources and explore possible uses. Guided Discovery also provides opportunities to introduce vocabulary, assess children’s prior knowledge, and teach responsible use and care of materials. Fourth graders in Rabbi Atwood’s class engaged in a Guided Discovery of their new Chumash this week.
I look forward to sharing the many additional Responsive Classroom tools and resources your children are learning in upcoming communications. I hope these student-centric practices are paving the way for a smooth transition back to school for our amazing 2022-23 school year!
Karen Leavitt
Head of Early Childhood

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