4 Essential Elements of Student-Centered Teaching and Learning

When students feel excited about learning and respected in their classrooms, they can succeed. In student-centered environments, teachers create a collaborative culture by valuing each student’s unique strengths and needs. They empower learners to have agency and voice, solve real-world challenges, and reflect on progress. Student-centered teaching and learning is not a “nice-to-have” - it is key to academic achievement, and builds crucial skills like resilience, independence, creativity, and collaboration which are needed to thrive in our rapidly changing world.
Based on a decade of learning from and supporting thousands of teachers, we’ve identified 4 essential elements of student-centered teaching and learning. In each of our services, we help teachers and leaders build their skills in a few “Focus Areas” that meet their individual needs and school or district priorities. Our coaches create personalized, job-embedded, supportive environments for significant professional growth.
Instructional Leadership
Instructional Leadership
Inclusive and Responsive Practices
Inclusive and Responsive Practices
Flexible Instructional Models
Flexible Instructional Models
Curriculum and Academic Content
Curriculum and Academic Content
The Essential Elements
Instructional Leadership
for Coaches and Administrators

Instructional Leadership

Instructional leaders are crucial for teacher growth and student achievement. Whether starting a new initiative or just scaling best practices, effective leaders communicate a clear vision, guide teams, and coach staff.
Focus Areas
Lead the improvement of teaching, learning, and overall school climate to enhance student achievement and success
Provide teachers with personalized coaching cycles that support them to grow and develop their teaching practice
Develop a collaborative professional culture to support student-centered teaching and learning
A replicable and authentic observation and feedback cycle that promotes aligned student centered goals and non-evaluative conversation
Inclusive and Responsive Practices
for All Educators

Inclusive and Responsive Practices

To thrive in school and beyond, students must feel valued. Teachers create inclusive and responsive classrooms when they adapt to students' needs, build social-emotional skills, and honor diverse perspectives.
Focus Areas
Prepare students with the self-awareness, relational, and decision-making skills needed to succeed in school and in life
Create learning communities in which all students can be seen, heard, and valued
Approach learning with an understanding of the impacts of trauma and adversity on students
Create inclusive educational ecosystems by examining structures, systems, and beliefs informed by race and identity
Support all English Learners to grow and thrive in their learning environments
Support students with disabilities to learn, grow, and thrive in their learning environments
Flexible Instructional Models
for All Educators

Flexible Instructional Models

With new technology and instructional models, teachers can transform the student learning experience to make it data-driven, personalized, and continuously relevant.
Focus Areas
Close academic gaps and provide differentiated support for all students
Provide students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding, track their progress, and guide their future learning
Leverage technology in the classroom to maximize student learning and growth
Deliver equitable, engaging, and student-centered instruction and create supportive learning communities in a remote or hybrid model
Engage students with real-world, inquiry-based tasks
Create personalized learning paths that allow students to progress toward goals and demonstrate competency in flexible formats
Curriculum and Academic Content
for All Educators

Curriculum and Academic Content

When teachers effectively shift to more rigorous, student-centered curriculum, they can transform classrooms into engaging, productive, and joyful learning spaces.
Focus Areas
Create transformative mathematics classrooms where students engage in problem-solving, discourse, application, and critical thinking
Develop students' literacy skills by supporting student ownership of evidence-based reading, writing, speaking, and listening
Strategically implement the Open Up Resources 6-8 Math curriculum
Strategically implement EL Education K-8 Language Arts curriculum to support student-centered literacy instruction
Supercharge reading engagement and infuse literacy skills across content areas using Newsela
Support students to engage in authentic, investigative science lab simulations using Labster
Cultivate targeted, responsive math practices using Derivita's question and feedback tools