Designing a student-centered learning program
Teacher-powered governance is the most effective way to create student-centered learning programs and ultimately increase student success. By moving the decision-making to those closest to students, teachers are better able to meet the unique needs of their school community. As Krista Kaput writes in Evidence for Student-Centered Learning, “It’s time to design a system that not only sets all students up for success but that is also equitable and meets their unique needs.” Teacher-powered governance allows teams to do just this.
Your team might design an entirely new learning program and instructional approach, select from existing options, or mix new and existing elements. The Discussion Starter on instructional approaches as well as the following series of design questions will be useful:
- What is your overall philosophy about teaching and learning?
- How is that philosophy reflected in your learning program and instructional approach?
- How will these choices meet students’ needs?
- Are these choices different from options that students can access in other schools? If so, how and why?
- Is there research that backs up your choices?
Role of teachers
- What is the role of teachers in relation to student growth and learning?
- Is this role different than that of teachers in a conventionally managed school? How?
- Will teachers deliver instruction in traditional ways? Or will they act more as learning facilitators and guides? (Or a combination of both?)
- Will teachers use their time differently than teachers in conventional schools? How?
- Will teachers personalize students’ learning? How?
- How will the learning program impact teachers’ daily activities? (For example, some teachers create self-directed learning programs in which they occasionally deliver instruction in traditional ways but mostly move around the room to speak one-on-one with students who are making their own learning choices.)
Role of students
- Will students have a different role than in conventional schools? How?
- Will they be active learners, passive learners, or some of each? How?
- Will they be expected to learn non-academic as well as academic skills? What about non-cognitive and cognitive skills? How will students learn these skills?
- How will students use technology?
- Will they have access to blended learning (online learning with some control over time, place, path, and/or pace)?
- Will students make use of community and natural resources? How?
- Will they have homework?
- How will students use their time differently than in conventional schools?
- Will students have an extended day? If so, how will it be connected to the regular school day and core academics?
- Will student voice be incorporated into the learning program? How?
- Will students have any responsibility for co-creating and co-enforcing community norms? How will that relate to their learning? (See designing an approach to discipline and meeting social needs for ideas. Many teacher-powered schools consider their disciplinary approach to be part of their school’s learning program and approach to instruction.)