I Want a Learner-Centered Classroom

So in the world of education, we typically have two “centric” types of classrooms.  We have teacher-centered classrooms and we have student-centered classrooms.  The modern push is for student-centered classrooms.  But let’s talk about that for a minute.

So a teacher-centered classroom is usually described as a teacher in the front of the classroom, lecturing, doing the majority of the talking.  Students are usually sitting there acting as sponges that just soak up the information from the teacher.  Usually, this involves lots of note taking with the students doing very little actual work.

The contrast is a student-centered classroom where the student is at the center of the classroom, the student is doing the work, the student is owning their learning.  The teacher acts more like a facilitator and guides the students through the learning process.

Now in modern days, the student-centered classroom sounds like all of the right things.  But the question is if you really have a student-centered classroom, where does the teacher go.  The teacher is the single most important part of the learning process.  So do we truly want the teacher off to the side?

Instead, I want a learner-centered classroom, which puts the learner at the center of the process.  It is more of a combination of student and teacher-centered classrooms.  It makes learning the most important part of the process.  Also, it vaguely describes who the learner is, mainly because that is always changing.  In a true learner culture in schools, we need to realize that everyone is a learner and everyone can be a teacher.  That includes teachers, students, principals, para-professionals, duty aides, secretaries, even the all-important custodians.  Everyone can learn from each other and everyone can teach each other something.

We need to continue to value the impact of teachers.  All teachers want to be successful and all teachers want to make a positive impact on students. So how can we create an environment that supports all learners and all teachers?

So in a learner-centered classroom sometimes the teacher is the teacher and sometimes the teacher is the learner.  Same with students. I know I have learned a lot of my students and I appreciate the information they have taught me.  This also allows for great teaching strategies like reciprocal teaching, differentiation, and scaffolded learning.

Any teacher knows that they need to have many different strategies in their toolbox.  Sometimes we need to use strategies from a student-centered classroom and sometimes we need to use some from a teacher-centered classroom. To say that this strategy or that strategy is wrong might not truly be the case.  The problem would be if you use that same strategy every single day and never make any changes.

Our goal as educators is to create learners and that is the culture I want to be a part of.  Everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher.


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