I am fortunate to work in a district that has amazing teachers. I love working with teachers that strive to design a complete learning experience truly focused on what is best for our students. An important aspect of this design includes establishing environments most conducive to the classroom being centered around the learner rather than the teacher. Those student-centered environments recognize the impact of time, flexibility of space, and direction that mindset plays in the school structure.
Student-centered environments view time differently than the traditional structure of school. In a traditional school setting, time is the constant and the learning varies. In student-centered environments, time varies and learning is the constant. We all learn differently depending on what we’re learning and that includes learning at different paces. When this is recognized, and the structure is allowed to change based on the learner/activity, students are given the necessary time for deep learning.
Student-centered environments provide flexibility in our learning space that easily adapts to the learner/activity. Flexible seating arrangements (of which students have choice), areas for collaboration/small and large group time, and access to multiple environments (library/ learning commons, a makerspace, the local/ broader community, outdoors, etc.) engages students, allows for connections, and provides an optimal opportunity for varied active learning experiences.
Student-centered environments factor mindset as key to learning. Moving beyond the physical structure allows for addressing the mental aspect of success. Creating an environment in which learners understand ability is developed, iteration is key to the learning process, and persistence benefits problem-solving promotes positive direction for critical thinking and relevant learning.
With the proper structure/support of time, space, and mindset educators can create environments that are truly designed for what is best for our learners.