Student-Centered Learning: It Starts With the Teacher
Have you ever been to a conference session when you noticed groups of teachers leaving in the middle of the session? Although it is hard to watch, it is comprehensible. They frequently depart since the session did not live up to their expectations. Let’s be honest: when teachers and/or administrators participate in learning experiences, what is the one non-negotiable requirement that must be met for the session to be considered a success?
Answer: Leaving with knowledge, skills, and techniques that may be applied immediately to improve instruction and job-related obligations is the goal.
To achieve this purpose, it is necessary to learn what the participants value and to engage them in activities that reflect their values. Teachers’ perceptions of what will help them become more effective are taken into consideration throughout effective professional development. This holds for their students as well. Although the learners may not be permitted to leave the classroom when the lesson does not include them, there are numerous alternative avenues by which they can escape.
Student-centered classrooms involve students in the process of creating, implementing, and evaluating lessons. Involving the learners in these decisions will increase the amount of work they have to do, which can be a positive thing. To be effective leaders, teachers must get comfortable with shifting their approach from directive to consultative — from “Do as I say” to “Based on your requirements, let’s co-develop and implement a plan of action.”
The first of three posts on student-centered classrooms will begin with the educator, as will the second and third. Teachers, in their position of control, must determine whether or not to “share” power through empowering students.
Allowing students to participate in decision-making is important.
Students’ collaboration is required to place them at the center of their learning. Their opinions on why, what, and how learning experiences take shape is important.
It all comes down to relevancy. Before learners are prepared to put up any effort, they must first comprehend the significance of the subject, vocabulary, and skills. It is expected that students will only give lip service to the rest of the lesson when they respond with the phrases “It’s mandatory curriculum,” “You need it for the test,” or “Because I said it’s important.” Demonstrating relevance from the standpoint of students is analogous to teachers participating in job-integrated professional development opportunities.
What is learned entails pupils selecting the content that they want to learn about. Allow their interests to guide the development of content that teaches skills and concepts. To understand how to write persuasively, some students may wish to deconstruct advertisements, product evaluations, op-eds, and/or points of view on social issues as part of their coursework. The most effective technique is to simply ask students what they would want to investigate. Commence the process by having them brainstorm what they enjoy doing, and then working together to align their interests with the skills and concepts.
Students’ ability to exhibit learning is dependent on the various methods in which they process what they have learned. Provide a choice of product selections depending on your knowledge of your student’s preferences. It is best to present three options as a secure bet. The teacher creates two options based on what the majority of pupils could be interested in doing. The third option is a blank check, in which students are encouraged to create their product or performance. Students are given the go-ahead if their proposal fits all of the academic standards, perhaps with some wiggle room for negotiation. Some examples include designing models and prototypes in Minecraft, presenting through social media tools, and writing in a professional format.
Believe in the ability of students to take the initiative.
Allow students to be in charge of activities, even if they do not possess all of the necessary content knowledge and competencies. Students are savvy consumers of educational resources. The child in third grade has three years of instruction and learning under his or her belt, whereas the high school sophomore has ten years under his or her belt.
Even though the material becomes more difficult, the classroom environment does not alter significantly. Students have hands-on experience in math, physics, English, and history, among other areas, and have the opportunity to connect with education specialists (teachers). Experienced students, like experienced teachers, are aware of the types of learning experiences that are most effective for them.
Increase the number of student-led learning activities to reduce the amount of direct teaching from the teacher. Some approaches are as follows:
- Choices based on personal interests
- Centers of interest (also applies to middle and high school students)
- Genius Hour is a period during which people are encouraged to think creatively.
- Take Note of the Fact That Students Are Reflections of Our Learning
- When educators believe that their professional experiences are valued and respected during workshops and courses, they are more likely to participate and buy in. As they gain an understanding of how their prior knowledge relates to the new concepts being taught, their confidence grows.
One to the World is a phrase that means “one to the world” in a figurative sense. The following are the four key elements: significant content and important competencies; authentic challenging problems in the world; a publicly available product to benefit the world; and being connected to the world
John McCarthy is credited with this image. (Click on the image to see it in greater detail.)
For curriculum to be given in a way that is meaningful to them, both children and teenagers must be involved. They must be able to see how their existing talents fit together and how they may confidently apply the skills they have learned in school to their life outside of school. When possible, incorporate real-world connections into your lessons. Employing abilities in ways that support or enhance their existing “real world” experience will provide students with a richer learning experience. Individual lessons or a group of lessons can be used to accomplish this. For example, instructors in Loudoun County (Virginia), under the leadership of Dr. Eric Williams, established One to World, which promotes student-centered learning experiences.
Give up the need to be in command.
My fifth-grade kid gave the following words of wisdom about the differences between school and home activities: “Why do they (teachers) keep bringing up the subject of the actual world outside the classroom? This is the true world in which I live.”
Through social media platforms such as YouTube, podcasts, Minecraft, and Twitch, children and teenagers create massive amounts of material. Some people make money as a result of their efforts. These young people build a following for their interests and join forces with others as they form and expand social networks. When these same content creators and entrepreneurs enroll in schools, all they know and are capable of producing is thrown out the window. However, after students graduate from high school, they collect talents that they learned outside of school and reconnect with their real-world networks.