5 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 5 essential elements of student-centered teaching and learning. In each of our services, we help teachers and leaders build their skills in a few “Professional Learning Domains” 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
Student Engagement
Student Engagement
Responsive and Inclusive Practices
Responsive and Inclusive Practices
Innovative Models
Innovative 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.
Professional Learning Domains
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
Student Engagement
for All Educators

Student Engagement

When students are engaged, learning flourishes. Teachers can create vibrant classrooms by giving students choice and voice, fostering collaboration, and personalizing learning with the help of data.
Professional Learning Domains
Develop a collaborative classroom culture in which all students feel safe, respected, and empowered to drive their own learning
Provide students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding, track their progress, and guide their future learning
Build opportunities and systems that empower students to take ownership and agency over their learning process
Responsive and Inclusive Practices
for All Educators

Responsive and Inclusive 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.
Professional Learning Domains
Support students' diverse strengths and needs so they can grow and thrive in their learning environments
Prepare students with the self-awareness, relational, and decision-making skills needed to succeed in school and in life
Ensure students from all cultures and perspectives have full and equitable access to learning
Innovative Models
for All Educators

Innovative Models

With new technology and instructional models, teachers can transform the student learning experience to make it data-driven, personalized, and continuously relevant.
Professional Learning Domains
Leverage technology tools and strategies in the classroom to support personalized pathways for learning
Deliver equitable, engaging, and student-centered instruction and create supportive learning communities in a remote or hybrid model
Create personalized learning paths that allow students to progress toward goals and demonstrate mastery in flexible formats
Engage students in real-world, inquiry-based tasks to develop deep content knowledge, critical thinking, and communication skills
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.
Professional Learning Domains
Implement a new curriculum strategically to support rigorous student-centered learning
Create engaging mathematics classrooms where students discuss frequently, problem-solve creatively, and think critically
Develop students' literacy skills by supporting student ownership of evidence-based reading, writing, speaking, and listening