Have you ever thought about letting your student’s take over the classroom? I’m talking about giving them (almost) full reign and allowing them to be in charge of their learning. Do you think that sounds absolutely absurd? Well, before you go running for the hills, let me tell you why this idea is actually pretty impactful for student achievement AND makes your job less stressful.
First let’s get into what student ownership actually is. The National Institute For Excellence in Teaching has a really amazing definition for it. Student ownership is defined as the stage when students can articulate what they are learning, why they are learning, strategies that support their learning, and how they will use these strategies in the future.
Imagine a room full of students able to do these things. Sounds pretty much like paradise huh? What if I told you I could help you achieve this paradise? I’m here to share with you 3 things you MUST know about fostering student ownership in the classroom!
#1: Prepare for the Student Takeover
If you’re going to allow students’ to have more ownership in the classroom, it is important to set them up for success. This means setting up your classroom in a student friendly way so that THEY are in charge of their learning. When giving students ownership, your goal is to create a classroom that *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.
Prepare a well organized space where students can navigate easily, for books, supplies, centers, etc. 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! If you’d like to get even further into this crucial classroom set up, I can help support you every single step of the way. Learn more HERE!
Once you set them up for success in their ownership of the room, students will able to articulate what they are capable of handling independently, why the rules are in place for it to function smoothly, strategies on operating the room in a way that supports their learning, and how they can take these independent skills and use them in the future.
#2: Slow is Actually Fast
I’m sure you’re definitely thinking I’ve lost it now. But stay with me. When preparing to gift your kids with all that is student ownership, it takes a pretty good chunk of time before you can let the reins go. “Go slow to go fast.” Take your time in the beginning and explicitly teach every single routine and procedure that applies to your classroom. I HIGHLY recommend taking six weeks time and I know that may seem like SO much time but trust me, you’ll be thanking yourself later!
I talk heavily about this in the 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. Be intentional and make a plan with the Back from Break Procedures checklist!
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After spending all that time showing students their routines and procedures, you’ll be amazed at what they can express. They’ll tell you what is expected of them, why the routines and procedures are in place, strategies on how best to follow them, and how they can take apply these skills in and outside the classroom, as well as in the future.
#3: 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.
The workshop model sets students up for so much targeted practice and support that it’s almost inevitable they don’t become masters in all that they learn. They’ll communicate to you what they are learning, why they are learning, strategies that support their learning, and how they will use these strategies in the future.
The exact definition of student ownership. You can also learn more easy to use tips about the workshop model HERE!
Love these tips and want to learn more? I strongly encourage you to join the Building a Student Centered Classroom course that will have you totally set up for a classroom that *almost* runs itself AND yields high achievement. The course teaches you 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! It will allow YOU to feel less stressed and more supported.
But don’t just take my word for it though! Read what Becca had to say about the course:
“The Building a Student Centered Classroom course is such an amazing resource for teachers! Whether you have been teaching for 15 years or this is your first year teaching, ALL teachers can get something out of this course. I am starting my fourth year as a teacher and Lindsay still managed to ask some questions that I had never even thought about! The course is well organized, easy to follow, and covers a multitude of topics essential for setting up and running a student centered classroom. The course workbook is something that I can see myself referencing for years to come. I have never felt so prepared for the beginning of the school year! Thanks Lindsay!”
I really hope you enjoyed learning these tips for fostering student ownership in the 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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