It makes perfect sense to say that the students should be the focus in your classroom. After all, they are the ones you are teaching. If, however, you follow the traditional models of teaching, you, the teacher, are the focus. You stand in front of the class, deliver your lesson plan, hand out worksheets and proctor assessments. This older model is still used, and some experts are considering it outdated. There are pros and cons to switching to a student-, or learner-, centered model of instruction.
In the learner-centered classroom, teachers achieve higher levels of engagement from their students. Children are more excited to learn when they take an active role in the lessons that are being delivered. Students become more engaged in the lesson when they are permitted to discuss openly and participate with one another actively.
When children participate, either as a collective group or as smaller groups, they learn valuable communication skills. Students learn how to collaborate with one another to get the work done. They ask each other questions, share information and explore together.
Communication and collaboration are skills that the students carry with them throughout their adult lives. Teachers in a student-centered environment do not hide behind their desk, but move about the classroom, interacting with students. It is in this way that teachers can judge how well students are communicating with one another.
In any classroom, teachers will have students who complete work in an average amount of time, those who lag behind, and those who power ahead.
When you utilize student-centered learning in the classroom, you can place children in groups of mixed ability, ensuring, to the best of your ability, that each child is learning at a similar pace. The students in your classroom who typically forge ahead are able to help those who lag behind.
Let’s face it: A room full of talking children is noisy. For some teachers, and some schools, the noise level of a student-centered classroom is simply intolerable. These classrooms are often slightly chaotic, and they take a deep understanding of child psychology to manage properly. There is such a thing as controlled chaos, although it is easier said than done.
Some students, particularly those with cognitive disabilities, may prefer to work independently. Not every student is suited to group work, nor should every student be forced to complete his work with others. Special care must be paid to be sure that these students aren’t being placed in a potentially uncomfortable situation. Even some typical children will have difficulty working with others until they learn the skill of cooperation.
Classroom management in a student-centered environment can be difficult. Your students may not be in the same stage of the same project, making it difficult to manage time and students’ tasks. It can also be difficult to ensure that each student is absorbing the information presented, as it can be easy for some students to miss your delivery.
According to education experts at Concorida University, a combination of teacher-centered and student-centered learning is often the best choice for most classrooms. When a teacher uses both types of instructional delivery, the greatest number of students is reached. A well-balanced classroom should be the goal of every educator.
Writer Brett Harris is a full-time blogger for education sites. If you are looking to get the best online education available, check out his latest piece on The 10 best online master’s in education degree programs.