Developmental Designs Classroom Practices

Goal Setting

Students set long-term and daily academic and social goals for themselves, and periodically assess how well they have met those goals, as well as goals set by the teacher.

Social Contract

The Social Contract process brings staff and students together to design and sign an agreement that binds the community to common rules and facilitates students' goals throughout the year.

Modeling and Practicing

Social competencies are learned by seeing and doing. Nothing is assumed; all classroom and school-wide routines are practiced.

Pathways to Self-control

When the Social Contract is broken, teachers have strategies to repair it, such as redirection, fix its, loss of privilege, and taking breaks. Social skills grow without loss of digniity.

Community-building Advisory

Circle of Power and Respect
Circle of Power and Respect advisory meetings bring students together in a fun, lively, safe, respectful meeting format that includes a greeting, sharing, an activity, and a daily news message.

Activity Plus
Activity Plus advisory meetings allow for more activity time and flexibility while preserving a sense of community during advisory.

Power of Play

Play is designed to build community, sharpen thinking skills, and enliven students while restoring their focus on learning.

Empowering Teacher Language

Gesture, tone, and words combine to create a rigorous, respectful climate for building responsible independence.

The Loop

An unending loop of thoughtful planning, careful work, and reflective assessment ensures continuous, conscious growth.

Collaborative Problem Solving

Students and teachers use social conferencing, problem-solving meetings, conflict resolution, and other problem-solving structures to find positive solutions to problems.

Student Choice

Student motivation increases when students determine some aspects of their learning: assessing their own growth, choosing a topic to research, how to study for a test, how to present their work to the class, what game the group will play in advisory. A structure to support effective self-determination pays off in student empowerment and school connectedness.


Carefully charting the path to goal achievement, task by task, increases the likelihood of academic success. Both social and academic efficacy are supported when tasks are designed to incrementally move learners from success to success.


Because of the wide variety of learners in a typical class, as well as adolescents' great desire for movement and variety, success is much more likely when students actively construct their own understanding, and when they frequently work with materials to explore and represent knowledge.


When students understand why they are learning something and how it connects to their own lives and hopes for the future, the gap between them and school is bridged, and they are much more likely to endorse the learning.


Teachers can take advantage of the two prime learning times -- the beginning and the end of the class hour. Using them for content introduction and reflection, respectively, leverages learning. The time in between is energized for learning when it is designed to be active and interactive, sometimes even lightened with playful moments.

Structured Interaction

Peer interaction throughout the class hour stimulates interest and increases cognitive growth.