The Responsive Classroom approach is a nationally-used, comprehensive set of highly practical strategies for improving academic performance and social skills in students grades K-6.  It is based on developmental theory and is informed by years of educational experience.  The Responsive Classroom approach makes possible successful group learning and individual learning as well as active participatory lessons that allow students to construct an understanding of the subject matter and integrate and retain this understanding.  The ideas are meant to bring meaningful change to the ways in which students get ready to learn, changes that allow the brain to make the connections it needs for academic success.  The academic focus that New City School offers is founded in Responsive Classroom principles:


1.The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.

2.How children learn is as important as what they learn.

3.The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

4.There is a particular set of social skills that children need in order to be successful academically or socially.

5.Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach,

6.Knowing the parents of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children,

  1. 7.The positive interactions which adults in a school have with the children, their families and each other provides the school model for social excellence.


For its middle-grades students, New City applies the Developmental Designs approach. The principles and practices of the approach are aligned with the Responsive Classroom approach and adjusted to the unique developmental needs of young adolescents. Developmental Designs structures are designed to meet adolescents’ needs for autonomy, competence, relationship, and fun. Students genuinely enjoy school. They feel connected, heard, empowered, and safe, and academic engagement increases.


To learn more about both approaches, visit www.originsonline.org

Responsive Classroom and

Developmental Designs Approaches


10 Responsive Classroom

Teaching Practices


Morning Meeting

Rules Creation

Positive Teacher Language

Interactive Modeling

Logical Consequences

Academic Choice

Guided Discovery

Collaborative Problem Solving

Classroom Organization

Working with Families