What Are Some Student-Centered Teaching Strategies? Here’s 5 Actionable Ideas You Can Implement Tomorrow

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Switching from a teacher-centered model in the classroom to a student-centered one can seem extremely overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Often I have people come to me with one simple question, “What are some student-centered teaching strategies?”

In a way, it’s a loaded question. While student-centered learning has some very specific poems to execute properly, it truly looks different for not only every teacher but for every collection of students in the classroom. What might work well for one group might not for another. So while there may be no “one-size-fits-all” answer for the question of what are some student-centered teaching strategies, there are some guidelines that any teacher can abide by.

The thing to realize is that this is okay and it just makes student-centered learning very fluid. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it, but this actually makes the process of teaching these students easier as the techniques ebb and flow with what works and what does not.

This in and of itself is a key element of student-centered teaching strategies. all student-led learning is created with the student in mind. This ranges anywhere from behavior and classroom management to content and standard mastery.

Easily answering the question, “What Are Some Student-Centered Teaching Strategies?”

It all comes down to a student’s understanding. We are trained as teachers that we need to make sure that we instill content knowledge into our students, but really learning is when a student understands a concept. Especially with our Generation Z students in the classroom today, it is imperative to make sure that we are teaching in a way that they understand as opposed to how previous generations learned.

Although this may look different anywhere from a classroom level to a course level to even a school year, it is not hard to determine the best methodology in implementing student-centered teaching strategies in trying to find the answer to the question, “what are some student-centered teaching strategies”. It just takes a little time for everyone to get on the same page, and then the magic begins.

Student Choice

Student choice is a huge piece of student-centered learning. We discuss this concept a lot here at Student-Centered World. To break it down, it is a lot like when you have a small child at home and you ask them if they want to wear their green coat or their blue coat that day. It really doesn’t matter what color coat they wear, just the fact that they’re wearing a coat. You’re happy because they are wearing a jacket and they are happy because they feel that they got to pick. 

It’s the same concept in the classroom.

You are crafting activities and ways of distributing content that all have the same outcome, but the students feel that they can pick something that really appeals to them. If you are looking for student engagement, this is the route to go. Make sure you check out our article all about how student choice works here.

Flipping the Classroom

Flipping the classroom is also a huge component of student-centered teaching strategies. This is an option that often scares a lot of teachers. You can read about the flipped classroom here, but ultimately the initial learning of content information is done outside of the classroom and then it is utilized and reinforced within the classroom. This is probably one of the key ways, again, to answer that question, “what are some student-centered teaching strategies?”.

What Are Some Student-Centered Teaching Strategies

Of course, the biggest concern is the question, “But what if the student doesn’t do the work” right? There is such a simple workaround for that and you can read about it in “The Flipped Classroom: A How-To Guide” here.

Utilizing Effective Brain Breaks

Brain breaks are also so important to make sure that your students are focused in the classroom. There are a million and one different brain breaks that you can try in the classroom, with some that energize and some that calm.

It is important to make sure, especially when you are looking at determining what are some student-centered teaching strategies, that your students are engaged on the same energy level, even if they are working on different activities or are at different points in a particular activity (refer back up to the student choice option above).

What Are Some Student-Centered Teaching Strategies brain breaks
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It is also so much easier to tell if your students do need a brain break with this model as you are interacting with each one on an individual level during every class period. You may notice that there needs to be a whole class activity or maybe something set up for just one student to be able to self-regulate and refresh themselves.

Regardless of the circumstance, the data says that everyone (adults and children alike) can focus more clearly and work better after the appropriate type of brain break. Also, this is another poignant answer when researching, “what are some student-centered teaching strategies”.

Here is also a great resource for a list of brain breaks in the classroom (ad)

Classroom Design

Honestly, how you design your classroom is also a huge element to the student-centered experience. If the design is factory-esque rows where the expectation is that students stay seated quietly the entire class period, this will not be conducive to a student-led learning environment that will be as successful as it could be. 

What Are Some Student-Centered Teaching Strategies child working on project on the classroom floor

Often when people start thinking about the options (ie. flexible seating), they start seeing dollar signs. This absolutely does not need to be the case. You can check out our article on the top 10 teacher tools for the student-centered classroom to get an idea of how to completely transform your classroom design on a dime. What are some student-centered teaching strategies? A few easy tweaks to your classroom!

Student Voice

How many of you were raised with the guidance that a child’s place is to sit down and shut up?

Isn’t it nice that all elements of life are finally breaking through that this is a terrible idea?

I’m not saying that kids should be disrespectful or flighty with their words or behavior, but listening to their needs is so imperative if we want to have the best outcomes in the classroom.

If we are meant to be ensuring that our students are mastering objectives (be them educational, social, emotional, etc.), shouldn’t we be heeding what is (or isn’t) actually working for them (and not just our perception of it)?

There are so many opportunities for this. We have a great podcast interview that chats all about tuning into your students’ needs and working with them in the classroom (and…spoiler alert…this particular classroom is virtual). Another option is by looking into student-led conferences, which are also a spot-on way for students to take ownership of their learning and voice, a great way to hone in on what are some student-centered teaching strategies. 

Answering the call, “What are student-centered teaching strategies?”

Though each of the above options is crucial student-centered teaching strategies, so many people want more. They want to know specifically how to do all of this in their own classrooms…including curriculum. A logical question, right? The hardest part about having a definitive answer to the question “what are some student-centered teaching strategies” is that there isn’t much out there that explains the how. A LOT about the why, but not the how.

This is why I started Student-Centered World in 2018. I created a soup to nuts program guide that walks you through the entire process for K-12 teachers that includes all curriculum elements and all the pieces that I chatted about above. 

If you are interested in joining the waitlist for the program, you can find information for “A Passion for Progress”, our signature 6-month program, here.

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