A student centered classroom allows you to create an environment where the support and achievement is high and the class practically runs itself. Think it sounds too good to be true? It’s not! And I want YOU to experience the amazing, beautiful way your classroom should be designed – and that’s centered around your students! You all will benefit greatly from this set-up AND you’ll never want to go back. So if you want your students to be strong independent learners while you are stress free and happy, let’s get into how to set this classroom up!
Step One: Organize Your Room To Foster Independence
First things first, set up your classroom in a student friendly way so that THEY are in charge of their learning. One main goal of your student centered classroom is that it *almost* runs itself so that YOU have time to facilitate and support your learners. They are the ones that need to be exploring, learning, practicing, and growing INDEPENDENTLY! It is the student’s needs that should be at the forefront when organizing the classroom. It is important to have a well organized space where students can navigate easily, for books, supplies, centers, etc. If you want to delve even further into the classroom set up portion of building a student centered classroom, I can help support you every single step of the way. Learn more HERE! Remember, functionality first, and THEN spruce it up with all the cutest Target goodies! It may seem scary to turn your classroom over to twenty-five plus children, I know! However watching them truly know how to operate the class, while learning in ways that work best for them, is anything but scary, it’s magical!
Step Two: Create a Climate of Kindness and Support
Building a positive, and supportive classroom climate helps ALL students thrive and grow. Lead with love and focus on relationships before content. I believe this is definitely a number one priority as an educator. Get to know your learners and as a class, begin to build a positive, kind, and healthy classroom community. This takes time, energy, and work. However, taking the time to do this at the beginning of the year will make for a classroom that works well together and helps lift each other up throughout the entire year. There are a number of ways to help build your community such as, engaging in team building activities, making a habit of hosting morning meetings and connection circles, and teaching various social and emotional skills. Start from day one and continue every day to ensure a strong, positive, and thriving classroom community.
Step Three: Go Slow to Go Fast
This means to go slow in the beginning and take ALL the time to teach ALL the things to your learners. Take TIME to establish routines and procedures- and by time I mean SIX WEEKS. That may seem like SO much but trust me, you’ll be thanking yourself later! I talk heavily about this in my Building a Student Centered Course and it really is the secret sauce to having your classroom *almost* run itself. If you take the time with students to build those rules, routines, and procedures, this will help your students hit the ground running when it comes to instruction. How? Because they know what is expected of them. Thinking through things like carpet time procedures, hallway procedures, and bathroom procedures, are just a few but very important things to think about. You can also check out this blog post HERE to learn more specifics about teaching routines and procedures to students. Let’s be intentional and make a plan with the Back to School Teaching Timeline checklist!
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Step Four: Implement a Workshop Model
A workshop model helps meet the needs of ALL students. It is an amazing combination of hands-on learning activities and direct instruction. It embodies differentiation and student choice and children stay engaged and learning. There are many different ways to implement a workshop model, but it generally consists of direct instruction in the form of a mini lesson, followed up with ample time for practice in a student centered setting. The workshop is ended with a ‘debriefing’ that includes a recap and reflection on student learning. It is no secret that students thrive when they are able to make choices. It is also no secret that teachers have to differentiate because each student comes with their own needs. This workshop model allows for both of these to happen simultaneously.
Another great reason to implement this model is because it supports a deeper understanding of concepts. The purpose of the mini lesson is to bridge learning from previous lessons, discuss learning targets, and the skills that are being taught. The beautiful thing about a guided workshop is that it is FLEXIBLE. You can set it up however you like that works for you and your students. Think of your workshop as a literal “shop” of “work” where students can explore and engage in activities that are aligned to the skill being taught. You, as the facilitator, will set up activities for students to engage independently, while you can observe and step in to guide or help as needed. It is a GAMECHANGER for student achievement.
Step Five: Have Fun!
Don’t ever underestimate the power of being silly and making the most of your time with students. Get creative in your engagement strategies, allow students to freely be them and make them feel comfortable bringing their own creativeness to the table. Make learning an overall marvelous time! Teaching is full of many challenges, lessons, and yes even tears…so make the most of it and have FUN with your students. You will only have this group of students one time so make the best of it! Be silly, laugh, and enjoy your year.
Are you feeling completely overwhelmed and not sure where to start as a first year teacher? Have you been teaching a while but still always manage to feel stressed at the beginning of the year? I strongly encourage you to join the Building a Student Centered Classroom course that will have you totally planned for your first six weeks of school with everything thought through. Get in the course and you’ll also have access to the Beginning of the Year Teacher Survival Guide at a discounted rate as well as some other amazing bonuses including a supportive teacher community. The course goes into extensive detail on how to successfully set up your classroom for the entire year. You’ll learn how to successfully set up your classroom in a way that flows and stays organized, strategies for building a positive classroom community, and all kinds of information on classroom management and instruction! The course will have you SET and help take some of the stress and pressure off.
I really hope you enjoyed learning 5 steps for building a student centered classroom! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Back to School Teaching Timeline FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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