Is there such thing as the perfect lesson, semester, or school? No! Not any more than their can be a perfect song, picture or jeans. Every learner is different. Human beings; intelligent, forgetful, happy, enthusiastic, reflective, short-sighted and sometimes moody, who become your students for a certain time all have their own story. Young individuals full of promises, heart-breaks and complexities. It’s true, and it matters.
So when we talk about student-centered classrooms, that too is a kind of generalization. It’s more of an approach than a strategy. There can’t be one ‘student-centered’ working strategy, for example. Ok, their can be one class-centered approach, but if it’s truly student-centered, well then you’d have one for each student, yes?
In our collective effort to design learning experiences, schools, curricula, technology, and all the other bits of education just right, is it possible that we miss some of the more obvious pieces? Pieces that every single student needs? What does every single student need to succeed in the world?
affection and acceptance
Students are infinitely more clever than the design of most schools and curricula seems to suggest they are. Students are still growing, with widely varying backgrounds of competences and experiences. To be succesful they need genuine affection and acceptance. That is far more inspiring to students than the most widely-praised performance.
Here are 5 things to be aware of:
– Every student needs self-knowledge:
Who am I, and how do I relate to the world around me? What kind of talents and skills do I have? What is required of me? How can I provide value and create an environment that fits me? What can I do to make things happen for me and others? Where have I been, and where am I going?
– Every student needs inspiring models:
Models give students something to anchor their thinking to when everything else seems abstract and academic. It can help to offer ideas, can act as scaffolding, illuminate possibility and provide a pathway. The more creative, inspiring, and diverse, the better the chance to reach all students. Showing how, when, where, and most importantly why things matter helps bringing lessons from ideas to action.
– Every student needs learning strategies:
For the learning it is more important to know those strategies better than the content. They need smart, intelligent, useful, flexible learning strategies that they can and will use because they know they need them. The strategies need to make sense, be understood and have the posibility to grow into.
– Every student needs feedback:
Feedback acts as guidance. It’s corrective and can even be comforting. It helps. Judgment is personal and emotional. It hurts.
– Every student needs a chance to practice:
Practice with a variety of support (none, a little, and a lot), with a variety of people, with and without prescription and instruction, but all within their Zone of Proximal Development (stretch). Every student needs someone to believe in them when their own conviction falters.
So, give learning back to life and see the beauty in every student.