Why Responsive Classroom Teaching
There is no doubt that most kid’s dread the thought of going to school. Trying lessons, dull teachers, annoying classmates and a dry curriculum are a sure fire way to drive any student (and by direct extension any teacher) to boredom. The old-school methods of the old school system certainly do not foment a stimulating classroom experience. An analogy can be drawn to the deaf teaching experience.
At the beginning of the century deaf students were enrolled into hearing classes and forced to take the very same curriculum as those without hearing difficulties. They were even forced to learn to speak yet forbidden to use their hands. This inhibited radically any academic growth for the deaf students.
The solution came later when the very deaf students, now adults, set to change the system by giving student the advantage over the curriculum. Eventually deaf children were sent to deaf school and taught lessons specifically tailored to their social and emotional needs. The results were well educated citizens, regardless of whether they could hear or not. Being deaf was no longer a stigma, but became more like an alternate life-choice.
The concept of responsive classroom teaching was born out of a similar goal: let the students decide — the curriculum needs to respond to them, not vice versa. While originally curriculum was based on rigid instructions and plans the teacher had to follow, responsive classroom teaching tries to give the student a range of choices without straying far from the original lessons. This goes a long way in stimulating and challenging the students.
This method has proven very successful. Studies by the University of Virginia have shown that students feel they have become part of the curriculum and are not forced to learn. This has opened up their willingness to learn and actively partake in the classes, as well as helped them achieve higher test scores in reading and math.
The responsive classroom teaching method is basically a classroom version of social media: it encourages communication between students and students and especially between students and teachers. The curriculum and teacher can adapt themselves to the responses of the students, and so increase their social skills and general outlook.
A secondary success of the method was that the teachers themselves benefited. Having a more enjoyable classroom caused them to be more positive and feel better about themselves. This positive effect on the teachers in turn increased the quality of the instruction, ultimately benefiting everyone immensely.