much student activity and autonomy, will chaos ensue and
Changing to a
learner-centered classroom does not demand the abdication
of the teacher's classroom authority. While responsibility
for learning is shifted to the student (something most teachers
welcome), the teacher is still the leader, organizer, arbiter,
planner, and classroom manager. Indeed, these roles are
intensified since a structured environment must be in place
for student learning to occur. Noise and activity levels
may be higher, but they should be the products of students
who are engaged in and excited about learning.
students do it? Do they have the self-discipline, the interpersonal
skills, or the desire to direct their own learning?
It is tempting
to inventory students and conclude that they have neither
the interest nor the ability to be successful in such a
classroom. However, performance in a traditional classroom
is not an indication of the way students will react in a
different setting. In fact, the academic problems and boredom
of many students may indicate that traditional instruction
is failing to reach them. Just as teachers will need time
to learn new techniques, students will also need models
for different ways of thinking about school. Some students
will quickly recognize their new role, but others will continue
to look to the teacher for all instructional authority.
Collaboration is difficult for some students and a teacher
will need to reserve some time at the beginning of the school
year to train the class in their roles as team members.
Can I cover
the curriculum, and will my students pass the state test?
and do cover the curriculum, successfully preparing students
for external tests, while teaching in learner-centered classrooms.
To do so demands a firm connection to the goals of the curriculum,
assuring that student activities result in skills that accomplish
those goals. Matching instruction with students' natural
inclination to learn should support better understanding
of the curriculum.
work will it take to change my teaching?
a traditional, teacher-centered classroom setting to a learner-centered
one is time- and labor-intensive. We do not advocate a sudden
dramatic shift to this type of classroom but suggest taking
the initial steps that feel most comfortable. Change must
be gradual, incremental, and self-paced.