George Lucas Educational Foundation

Transition to Student Centered Learning

Transition to Student Centered Learning

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Student-centered problem-based learning supports the common cores standards which in turn supports student-centered learning. Every week our staff explores new ways to incorporate more student-centered learning. Students can learn to be self-motivated and deep thinkers in a student-centered classroom. So how difficult is it for teachers to share control? Can they give more power to students to support their active learning? Some staff members can't imagine giving up their control, while other are very open and willing to the idea. So how do we get everyone on board?

Throughout many trainings and meetings on the common core standards, it is clear that they require deep thinking, collaboration and real world problems. Having a student-centered classroom can support what the common core is. Students should be allowed to teach one another, learn from each other and gain insights and strategies from their peers.

Jumping into a student-centered classroom can seem overwhelming and down right impossible. What we as a staff have decided is to tackle one subject at a time. Most teachers now have an active learning setting for science and mathematics. We have seen an increase in student learning within these subjects and students are creating better projects within these subjects. Can we self-organize even more to incorporate all subjects? Will it make students want to be at school more?

Student-centered learning is a powerful and effective way to hold students accountable for their learning and it fosters a deeper collaboration between classmates. Students use real world problems to dive deeper into the subjects being taught. More and more of our teachers are becoming enthusiastic about active learning. Although giving up control can be difficult, it can also be a wonderful effective way to teach students and for students to learn what it means to be self-motivated and work in a team to reach a common goal.

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

Hi K! Thanks for sharing these thoughts and your experience. You're right that, taken as one whole, the process can be pretty intense. I like to encourage teachers to think in terms of increasingly complex work combined with decreasing resources and scaffolding. It's a continuum that way, with room to flex as the needs of the students change. Keep us posted as to how things go!

HollyB's picture

Hi K, I see the importance of student-centered learning in classrooms. I believe that it will empower students to be responsible for their own learning and their own successes and failures. This transition is an important, but often times a challenging one. A student-centered learning environment is certainly different from the classroom experiences that I had growing up. You mentioned that your staff looks at new ways to incorporate student-centered learning into lessons. Could you share some of these strategies or ideas that your staff have attempted or considered?

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