The RC approach has seven essential principles to guide teachers’ thinking and action. These principles are

(a) an equal emphasis on the social and academic curricula;
(b) a focus on how children learn as much as what they learn;
(c) the view that social interaction facilitates cognitive growth;
(d) an emphasis on cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control as critical social skills for children to learn;
(e) a focus on knowing children individually, culturally, and developmentally;
(f) an emphasis on knowing the families of children; and
(g) the view that the working relationships among adults at the schools are critically important .
(Northeast Foundation for Children, 1997, 2007).

Specific RC practices emerge from these principles, including
(a) Morning Meeting, a daily meeting to create a sense of classroom community with time for sharing, games, and playful intellectual activity;
(b) Rules and Proactive Discipline, in which rules are established to prevent problems and in which consequences for problem behaviors follow logically from misdeeds, are developmentally and individually relevant to the child, and rely on a trusting and positive relationship between the teacher and the child for their effectiveness; and
(c) a shift in teacher language, whereby teachers learn to comment descriptively on children’s effort and learning processes, not only products, as well as to use ‘‘encouragement’’ rather than ‘‘praise’’
(Northeast Foundation for Children, 2007).
"These principles and practices are designed to create classroom environments conducive to learning. Thus, the majority of the practices emphasize social, emotional, and self-regulatory skills as immediate goals and academic achievement as a culminating objective."