Our focus during module 6 is on learner centered instructional approaches. Dr. William’s screencast noted that learner centered classrooms address the learning needs of the whole child and are developmentally appropriate (Williams, 2013). Students are encouraged to play a role in choosing the curriculum that is of interest to them.
Carl Rogers found that classrooms that were led by teachers who were encouraging, respectful, and valued student ideas and thinking were more likely to have fewer disruptions than classrooms that were weak in these areas (Rogers, 1983). Learner centered classrooms – or, as Carl Rogers terms it “person-centered” classrooms – reflect what Rogers concludes from his studies: that “positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors.”
Ronald Ferguson likens such positive teacher-student relations to a leg on an “instructional tripod”. Effective student learning depends upon 3 critical components: course content, pedagogy, and relationships. (McAdoo, 2011) Each instructional “leg” carries equal significance when educating the whole child.
Learning centers are one instructional approach that can be supportive of a learner centered philosophy. Learning centers are more commonly used in the primary grades and allow students to choose from an array of learning experiences that are of interest to them. At the same time, teachers can observe students in order to get familiar with their individual learning styles, maturity, and academic levels. Learning centers are thought to naturally foster a respectful classroom environment. (Williams, 2013).
This particular module has caused me to look critically at my own practice of learning centers in my classroom. Often, I will set up centers in order to give students relevant learning experiences while I work with small groups in reading. Students rotate through a set of centers over a period of a week and are responsible for a specific set of tasks at each station. This practice has been effective in that students are independently engaged in meaningful activities while I have an opportunity to work with small groups. However, I realize that this system does not give students the opportunity to choose their centers and I have not been using this time to observe students and gather data regarding their individual learning needs. I plan to revise my learning center protocol to include student choice as well as time for me to observe and record student behaviors that will inform my instructional planning.
Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
McAdoo, M. (2011). Inside the mystery of good teaching. In Education Oasis. Retrieved August 5, 2013, from http://www.educationoasis.com/resources/Articles/mystery.htm
Rogers, C. (1983). Freedom to Learn
Williams, T. (2013, July). Learner centered models and multiple intelligences. Survey of instructional strategies. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA