All student-centered learning begins with one person
Student-centered learning suggests that learning starts in the hands of students. That’s not so. Any learner-centered environment is the product of careful analysis and planning, which always begins with one person: the teacher.
Build learning centers around the students
Don’t expect a wild learner-centered environment where students are off-task and lack discipline. In the student-centered classroom, there’s real work to do. Students go about the business of learning, and many embrace the process. You may hear talking and see movement. Students work at their own pace, individually or with others. Throughout all of this, the focus remains on learning.
Student-centered learning is a tailored approach to instruction. Selected content topics and activities appeal to the interests and cultural backgrounds of the learners in a climate of respect and trust.
Behind the scenes of any learner-centered classroom is a teacher who invested time in preparation. Armed with the knowledge of the scope and sequence, learning standards, and data regarding student achievement, the teacher orchestrates everything that follows.
Teachers who commit to the student-centered classroom consider the intellectual, emotional and socials needs of the children, and then they explain the learning expectations to their students.
Student-centered leadership won’t happen overnight
A student-centered classroom takes considerable work up front, but preparing students to take responsibility for their learning is well worth the investment.
For some teachers, that may mean letting go of some traditional teaching methods and procedures. You may have always stored student work in baskets, for example, but if your students have another suggestion for managing their work, let them try it.
As you incorporate technology for personalized learning or student-led conferencing, you must teach the expectations for every activity. The transition becomes a give and take between the teacher and student. Communication and collaboration are the keys to the classroom that focuses on the learners.
It takes time to develop trust and respect in the classroom. By giving kids control of their learning, you’re hastening the relationship-building process.
Setting student responsibility for learning
When students become decision-makers and leaders in the student-centered classroom, they understand what they’re doing, why they are doing it, and how it must be done. They become accountable for making it happen, too.
Signs of a student-centered classroom
Step into a student-centered classroom, and these are some of the activities you may see:
- Students can articulate what they’re doing and why.
- The teacher engages with students, either in groups or with individuals.
- Students set the pace, at least for some of the time.
- Authentic evaluations come from a variety of sources.
- Students know where materials and supplies are kept, and they have immediate access to them.
- Transitions from activity to activity occur organically.
- The fluid and dynamic environment encourages student engagement.
- Students complete tasks in large and small groups, as well as individually
Regardless of the activity happening, the teacher pre-planned for everything you see taking place.
Creating a student-centered environment is about getting students to accept, take charge of, and maintain responsibility for their learning. Teachers pave the path for learning by creating student-centered classrooms.
Students who take responsibility for their learning become life-long learners.