Friday, April 18, 2014

The Beginning of a Shift

This is the second in a series of posts about a movement that I am starting in my school.  My school predominantly instructs in a teacher-centered model, and my aim is to shift that to a student-centered instruction model.  This series will serve as a means to flesh out my ideas as I plan for professional development during the 2014-15 school year.

Today's post will focus on why I feel it is important to make this transition in our classrooms.  Future posts will include an examination of characteristics associated with a student-centered classroom, resources available to help in planning for professional development, and finally, an outline of how I intend to structure my professional development sessions.  In the fall, I will revisit this series to assess how the professional learning is going, identify areas that I need to address, and share any lessons that I have learned.

Why I Feel This Change is Needed

The students of today are changing, and we need to change our methods of instruction to meet them where they are. Students in schools today are accustomed to being in control of their learning while away from school.  With the ubiquitous nature of information today, students can learn what they want, how they want, when they want.  It is imperative that educators make a shift in how we structure our classrooms to give the students what they are seeking.

The prevalence of digital devices in our classrooms has offered teachers an opportunity to harness the powers of these devices to take our students to new heights.  Unfortunately, what I have found during my observations in my school is that the addition of technology has not changed the manner in which the students are learning.  This is not a surprise to me, as one should not expect that just because you add an iPad to a classroom, that all of a sudden the teacher will make this fundamental shift in their instructional practices.

It is the confluence of these two developments- an altering of our students' needs and desires as they relate to learning, and teachers unsure of how best to integrate digital devices to effectively meet the needs of our changing students- that has led me to believe that my goal for professional development needs to focus on developing a student-centered environment in classrooms.  By leading teachers in learning the different options available to personalize a student's learning environment effectively, and following up with classroom observations throughout the year, I strongly believe that my teachers will be able to make the shift in the direction of a student-centered classroom.  

Do you feel it is imperative that teachers move towards a student-centered model in their classrooms? Why or why not?

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