Back in April of 2018, I wrote an article about Responsive Classroom. In July 2019, I went for a week long seminar to be trained in Responsive Classroom specific to teaching intermediate level students. There are many RC practices that are consistently shared between primary, junior and intermediate teaching levels. One RC practice that is distinctly different at the intermediate level is the ‘Morning Meeting’. RC practices aim to mature and progress the social, emotional and cognitive domains of a learner. The purpose of the meeting is to give students a safe place to practice positive, intentional, social interaction. The group is led to greet and converse with one another through games, prompting questions and discussions. At the intermediate level ‘morning meeting’ becomes Responsive Advisory Meeting.
RAM is altered in appropriate ways to provide a safe place for adolescents to interact with one another. 12 year olds desire to be with friends, reflect on who they are becoming, feel safer in smaller groups and are ready to take on responsibilities (Wood, 2017). At 12 years of age, students are increasingly able to plan for and organize themselves. RAMs focus on 7 areas to support social, emotional and cognitive development: student-to-student affiliation, academic readiness, advisor-advisee relationship, communication and social skills, re-engagement, reflection/recalibration and service learning (Benson et.al., 2018). The students meet, and interact, in small groups of 4-6 students. Each RAM contains a greeting time, announcements, guided interaction (skill based), an activity (skill based) and a reflection. The teacher’s ‘advisory’ role is to consistently meet with small groups, noting and encouraging positive interaction and development. The teacher also meets individually with students to discuss short, and long term goal setting, and to monitor goal attainment.
There is much evidence that RAM is having a positive effect on our grade 7 learning community. Daily, students are practising active listening and speaking/presentation skills. Students report they enjoy sharing their feelings, and knowledge, with peers in ‘safe’ small groups. Students have begun intentional short-term goal setting, developing self-regulation skills and building confidence to use and share their God given talents.