This study was conducted in 24 elementary schools in a Virginia school district.
Teachers (95 taught third grade, 92 taught fourth grade, and 89 taught fifth grade) were predominantly female (90%) and had, on average, 10 years of experience. Teachers were predominantly White (84%).
Students were about evenly split in terms of sex (49% female) and almost one-third (32%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The sample included students who were White (41%), Black (11%), Asian (19%), Hispanic (24%), and other (5%). Schools identified 28 percent of the students as English language learners.
The Responsive Classroom (RC) approach is intended to help teachers create a supportive and safe environment for learning that reduces students' anxiety and increases their feelings of self-efficacy. In this case, the aim was to improve teachers' mathematics teaching practices but also develop classroom practices that support students' social and emotional learning. These practices are intended to be implemented throughout the day, and not just as part of particular lessons. Nine key practices are implemented over 2 years. The first year includes Morning Meeting, Rule Creation, Interactive Modeling, Positive Teacher Language, and Logical Consequences. The second year consists of Guided Discovery, Academic Choice, Classroom Organization, and Collaborative Problem Solving.
The comparison condition was business as usual, which used a combination of textbooks and implemented the district testing frameworks and pacing guides to direct instruction. Teachers in this condition may still have used community building techniques, may have set clear behavioral expectations, and may also have used a guided discovery approach to teaching mathematics (guided discovery is not unique to RC).
Support for implementation
Teachers received training in the RC approach that included two 1-week training sessions over two consecutive summers. Teachers received 3 days of school-based coaching and opportunities to engage in three RC workshops during each school year subsequent to training. They also received RC manuals, two additional RC books, on-demand support (in person and through email) from coaches, and articles on the RC website. Administrators received training and three sessions per year of administrator coaching led by the developer, Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC). NEFC consultants also met with each administrator for a planned meeting in fall and spring. Each school received a full set of RC books for their library.