Yeshiva Har Torah spent this past school year focusing on adopting Responsive Classroom methodology throughout the school, with help from The Jewish Education Project.
Responsive Classroom is a nationally acclaimed, evidence-based approach to elementary school teaching, developed by classroom teachers to foster both social and academic growth. Yeshiva Har Torah had incorporated aspects of Responsive Classroom in the past, but a comprehensive four-day workshop this past summer, facilitated by The Jewish Education Project, kick-started the school’s current push to fully adopt Responsive Classroom school-wide.
“Responsive Classroom is one of several new models that forward-thinking Jewish day schools are exploring and implementing,” said Sara Seligson, Director of Day Schools and Yeshivot for The Jewish Education Project. “Yeshiva Har Torah’s administrators and educators have been exemplary in their continuous dedication to improving the learning and teaching experience for everyone in their school community; we anticipate that this commitment will ultimately have a lasting, far-reaching impact for many years, serving the many communities that their graduates find themselves in later in life,” added Seligson.
Assistant Principal Pesha Kletenik feels the results have been dramatic. “When I walk in the hall, I see teachers helping students work through issues, rather than sending them to the office. Responsive Classroom is about relationship building and problem solving, along with setting up clear expectations and a predictable environment. These are critical elements to a strong foundation for learning and emotional growth.”
Edith Palomba, a consultant from the Center for Responsive Schools, recently spent a day observing and evaluating YHT’s progress in adopting their strategies. YHT scored highly and also gained valuable feedback. Palomba noted that the implementation of Responsive Classroom practices and philosophy was evident in the school “as they incorporate social and emotional learning with academic skills within a religious setting.”
Palomba also was taken with the warmth of the school. “I left the school feeling the excitement and enthusiasm that the teachers have for the students they teach. The school exemplifies all that is good in education: caring teachers that strive to provide a high quality education for all students. They have an added bonus: leadership that shares the vision for success for all.”