Switching to a learner-centered mindset helps students prepare for the future
- In an interview with Randy Ziegenfuss, superintendent of the Salisbury Township School District in Pennsylvania, District Administration shares advice about how to shift to a more learner-centered approach to education.
- The shift reflects the need for today's students to be prepared to enter a workforce where they will need to be self-directed to succeed. The current system, which cedes control to schools rather than students, will leave students underprepared for such a future.
- Ziegenfuss, who is a featured presenter for the Future of Education Technology Conference, to be held in January in Orlando, said that leaders can accomplish this shift by starting with a clear vision, considering the role of technology, and starting with a small group of curious teachers who will practice being learner-centered.
For many educators, the decision to turn to a learner-focused approach is a paradigm-shift that upends education as they know it. However, in this changing world, allowing students to have more voice in their education makes sense. The idea, as some have expressed, is to allow students to become “architects of their own lives” so they feel more engaged in the learning process and see more clearly how what they learn matters to them.
The learner-centered approach can affect education in many ways, allowing students to even have a voice in making decisions about school operations. Students can have a voice in smaller issues in earlier grades and more as they get older. Some curriculum options allow for this choice more than others. For instance a new applied robotics curriculum for middle schools called Wonder Workshop is designed to give students more of a voice about STEM subjects through project-based learning.
As students grow older, the ways to empower them to take ownership of their learning expands. However, students cannot feel free to express their voice without the support of teachers and administrators. As one superintendent noted, the biggest obstacle is “letting go and allowing students to lead.”
- District Administration K12 leaders: Hand over the reins