With the GSB campus buzzing with anticipation for the start of school, GSB Lower School teachers utilized their Faculty & Staff orientation to create the best possible learning environments for our students for this year and beyond.
Over the course of three days, Lower School teachers, Related Arts teachers, and coaches took part in a comprehensive Responsive Classroom training workshop to provide a common teaching framework for social-emotional learning and academic growth. The evidence-based approach is based on the idea that students accomplish their best learning when teachers create an environment built around developing both academic and social-emotional learning skills (SEL). In order to prepare students for success in school, college, and beyond, it is important to strengthen SEL skills such as cooperation, empathy, responsibility, and self-agency to reinforce their academic development.
Lower School Teacher and Grade 1-4 Team Leader Sarah Schultz believes that the Responsive Classroom training was an important step in Gill’s commitment to providing our young students with a sense of belonging, significance, and learning support.
“The program benefits our community in a variety of ways, but most significantly supports the growth of individuals, our classroom communities, and the greater environment in which we work, learn, and live,” said Mrs. Shultz.
The three-day training program was an important milestone in GSB’s work with Responsive Classroom, which first began during the 2020-21 school year and was funded through the generous donation of a GSB Board Member Antoinette Segreto P ’32, ’32. Over the last two years, Gill has implemented many Responsive Classroom principles into its Lower School curriculum to help students establish healthy learning routines, build a sense of community and shared purpose, and develop important skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and communication.
Jill Fedon, GSB’s Lower School Dean of Student Life, feels that the three-day workshop provided a unique opportunity for Lower School teachers to embrace the training as a unified group.
“It was so powerful to all be learning together at the same time,” said Mrs. Fedon. “That shared experience sparked some important questions and conversations about how Responsive Classroom can continue to guide our approach to teaching and strengthen our community.”
The Responsive Classroom approach is intrinsically aligned to GSB’s Lower School teaching philosophy, which has a long history of emphasizing social-emotional learning and character awareness as an integral part of its curriculum. As teachers continue to implement the lessons they’ve learned in their training, Lower School Director, Kyle Armstrong, believes the Responsive Classroom framework will undoubtedly support the Lower School’s other signature programs such as the Orton-Gillingham Method of Reading and Singapore Math curriculum.
“When the opportunity came across to train the full Lower School at the same time, it was truly amazing,” said Mr. Armstrong.
“When we all work off a common set of understanding with the same common set of goals, it gives us the ability to really be thoughtful about responding to students’ needs. We don’t subscribe to a cookie-cutter approach at Gill, and adding Responsive Classroom to our teaching tool bag only furthers our ability to create safe, innovative, engaging, and exceptional learning spaces for our students.”