0017: What is Student-Centered Instruction? How do we get there?
Many teachers don’t know what student centered instruction is. They’ve been told countless times to make lessons “student centered”, but that is nothing more than a meaningless phrase to many. Notably, I’m writing here to sharpen my understanding of the phrase “student centered” and maybe trying to decide if that’s even the best way to describe quality instruction.
The phrase is polarizing. Learning was teacher centered, now it should be student centered. This sounds to many like anarchy, and out of confusion teachers often hand the reigns directly over to their students and step completely away (some with hurt feelings) allowing their students to fester in their own frustration while still demanding the same things and assessing learning in the same ways. This very clearly is not the goal.
Perhaps a better goal would be collaboration between teacher and student. Classroom should be think-tanks that require everyone’s input— teacher and student. And, everyone should learn, even the teacher. The phrase “prepare student-centered” lessons is not quite functional. If I the teacher completely prepare the lesson, then it is teacher centered. It becomes inauthentic. Certainly, the teacher should think through the lesson, but the burden of thought and problem solving should not be on the teacher alone. Students should do the bulk of the research, problem-solving, lesson prep, and so forth with the teacher there to guide discussion sometimes and more important foster an environment that lends itself for directed lateral thinking. The teacher should help generate questions until the students are able to themselves. And then the teacher should become a partner in the learning.
Progressive teachers and principals help your fellow teachers learn. Empower them. Build relationships. Make collaboration a part of your faculty so it can be mirrored in the classroom.