Kelly Kennefick

BetterLesson Instructional Coach

  1. Do you want your students to be active participants and leaders in creating classroom norms, values, and procedures that are conducive to learning?
  2. Do you want to support students to develop independence and own more in the classroom?
  3. Do you want your students to communicate respectfully for multiple purposes and with multiple audiences, include their peers and you?
  4. Do you want to create a learning environment that honors students’ voices?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re ready to create a student-centered classroom culture.

The goal of student-centered classroom culture and design is to develop a collaborative learning environment that honors students’ voices and supports student to drive their own learning. When students are consulted and involved in creating the norms, values, and routines, they feel more connected and engaged in the learning environment.

Shifting to a student-centered classroom can increase student participation, decrease behavioral challenges, and lead to improved learning outcomes.

Does Student-Centered Classroom Culture and Design sound compelling to you, but you are not sure how to begin? Check out these strategies for designing and fostering a learning environment that enables students to be active participants who own and drive their learning:

Step 1

Near the beginning of the year you can use the Creating and Improving Class Rules and Procedures with Students strategy to strategically think about how to involve students in creating class rules and procedures. By doing so, students will begin having a voice and ownership in their learning environment.

Step 2

Encourage student conversations and discussion by using the Circle Up: Co-creating Community Conversations using Class Circles or Class Council strategy to provide a forum for students to engage in structured discussions. Use this strategy to promote character development and/or to support students to discuss issues they face in their lives.

Step 3

Support collaboration and enable all students to have a voice in group work using the strategy, Student Roles: Democratizing Group Work.

These strategies are a few ideas for making students active participants in their classroom. It may seem intimidating, but creating a student-centered classroom begins by focusing on the classroom design and foundation of values, norms, and procedures. Beginning here builds a solid foundation for expanding to communication, feedback, and students driving their own learning. Giving up control can be scary, but with the support of these strategies and lessons, the outcome is worth the potential challenge!