In creating a learner-centered classroom, there is little more important than knowing your students.
This lesson details why it is so important that you get to know your students and ways this impacts learning.
Knowing Your Students
If you walked into the hospital on the day you were scheduled to have a surgery, and the surgeon asked what he was doing for you that day, you’d probably be more than a little panicked. In many human-services fields, knowing the people you work with is integral if you want to do a good job and succeed.
The same is true of learner-centered classrooms. These are classrooms in which the student is the focus of all activities and learning, with the teacher acting as a facilitator and guide on the side. In order to establish an effective, productive, learner-centered classroom, you must know your students – and not just their names.
What You Should Know
A doctor doesn’t need to know your favorite color to treat you effectively. Likewise, in teaching, there are certain pieces of information that are more important than others when getting to know your students. Some of the most important include preferred learning styles, cultural backgrounds, important relationships, interests, and personalities.All of these factors are things you should know about your students at any level of education.
Having this information will help you to better serve and facilitate your students’ learning. Let’s look at how this information aids learning at several levels of education: elementary school, high school, and post-secondary education.
If you are an elementary school teacher, you know how difficult it can be to motivate students.
This is especially true if you are teaching in a learner-centered classroom, where students are responsible for much of their own learning and must be motivated to want to do the work. By knowing your students, you can come up with creative ways to motivate them to work.For example, some of your students might prefer to learn information presented to them verbally instead of reading it. In this case, you can provide those students with resources they can use to find videos or recordings about the topic or concept of interest. But if you don’t know their preferred learning style, you can’t be a good facilitator in this way.Family relationships are also incredibly important at the elementary level. Getting to know not just your students but also their families is key for helping them learn.
By knowing your students’ families, you can create partnerships so that the students are supported in learning, even when they are not in school. By taking the time to maintain these relationships, your students have a better chance of succeeding and learning.
High School Level
Students at the high school level can be incredibly difficult to get to know at times.
However, doing the work will pay off for both you and the student. As a high school teacher, you are responsible for teaching your students the skills and knowledge they’ll need to move on to college, a technical school, or a career. It’s important that you tailor instruction for these students toward their interests so they can see how their education will impact their lives in the future.Personalities are often very strong in high school, so learning about the personality of each of your students can help you teach them more effectively. For example, if you know a certain student is shy and hesitant when it comes to working with others, you can offer to spend some time working with him/her to gain skills needed to work with others.
Knowing your high school students will also help you anticipate or identify personal issues they might be having. If you know your students, you will know when they are behaving strangely or feeling down. By noticing this, you can intervene and offer them help or point them in the right direction to get help. If a student is concerned with a personal problem or issue, they are probably not going to learn well that day, so helping them is incredibly important.
Teaching at the college level is quite different than the elementary or high school levels. However, it is still important that you know your students. Though you are all adults, your students still enter the room with different needs and preferences. In order to teach equitably and effectively, you should know these needs and preferences.Understanding your students’ cultural backgrounds is important at all levels of education, but also has a unique impact at the college level.
Being aware that one of your students might be observing a religious holiday means that you won’t get upset when they miss class. Also, some students might need to observe certain traditions, meaning they may need to step out of class for a few moments.Additionally, learning about your students is a sign of respect that will make every learner feel more comfortable with you. The worst professors or teachers I had in college were those that viewed every student as a grade in their gradebook instead of a person with unique interests and views. Showing your students you care to learn about them will inspire them to achieve in your classes.
A learner-centered classroom is one in which students are responsible for their own learning, with the teacher acting as a facilitator on the side. In these kinds of classrooms, it is important for the teacher to learn about and get to know their students. No matter which level of education you’re teaching, knowing your students is necessary to create a safe, respectful, and productive learning environment.