Student-centered Learning Environment

Build relationships: When teachers foster relationships with students, parents, and peers, they enable tailored learning experiences that align with each students’ needs, interests and backgrounds. Effective instruction can be supported by positive relationships or negated by weak and/or negative relationships in the classroom. Furthermore, when the teacher models and teaches mutual respect and interaction with one another, students recognize the worth of their peers’ ideas and contributions. This in turn supports collaboration and communication. These relationships are an integral step in setting the tone for a positive, respectful, and purposeful learning environment.

Set the tone High expectations: In addition to building relationships, teachers set the tone for learning by establishing high expectations and encouraging perseverance. When teachers clearly communicate expectations and provide necessary supports, students achieve. High expectations are the most reliable driver of high student achievement, even in students who have not experienced success or achievement. Growth Mindset: Inasmuch as establishing high expectations raises student achievement, establishing a growth mindset in the classroom sets the expectation and confidence that learning will occur. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their capacity is fixed and are less likely to persevere through a task. Those with a growth mindset, however, are oriented toward learning. They see failure as a learning opportunity, that they can grow their abilities over time, and that expertise develops with persistence (Dweck, 2006). 6

Purposefully use space: In order to create a student-centered learning environment, the learning space must be structured in a way that utilizes the space in its entirety for learning. Displays support learning and showcase student work. The room structure allows for flexibility, cooperative and individual learning, and connects students to digital learning experiences. In this way the teacher is able to plan for a wide variety of learning opportunities, facilitate discussions, and the class becomes both personalized and collaborative in nature.

Purposefully use Instructional Technology Resources: Student-centered learning environments are active environments where the teacher guides the learning. Although the presence of digital tools and resources does not automatically transform the classroom-learning environment into a student-centered space, the appropriate integration of digital resources supports self-directed learning and increased student-to-student learning experiences that are associated with student-centered learning environments. In addition, instructional technology equips students to independently organize their learning process (Moeller, Reitezs, 2011). Instead of being passive recipients of information, students using digital tools and resources have the potential to become active learners under the guidance of a teacher who designs student- centered learning experiences. If integrated appropriately, digital tools and resources have the potential to transfer some responsibility for learning to students. Learners also benefit from reading and using authentic materials acquired from up-to date online resources rather than textbooks (Moeller, Reitezs, 2011). For this reason, instructional technology is often present and actively being used by the students in a student-centered learning environment.