3 Easy Steps to Creating Student-Led Learning In Your Classroom

1. Stray Away From One-Sided Objectives

  • Common objectives lead teachers to focus on only one aspect of the learning outcome. Teachers should encourage, value, and celebrate student inquiry as opposed to always focusing on whether or not the student met the objective. A student may not be able to achieve the objective, but that does not mean that he/she was unable to think critically and apply their background knowledge. We have to look at the ways in which our students interact with the content in order to build learners who are truly invested in their education. 

    2. Give students the opportunity to learn through exploration

    • In the traditional teaching model, educators often model a skill for students without giving the students an opportunity to think critically about what skill can be used. As teachers, we have to be intentional about providing students with the opportunity to explore and inquire before we tell them the skill they should use. When a learner has to explore and inquire, the lesson tends to resonate with the learner in a far more meaningful way than the traditional “model and memorize”. 

    3. Allow students to be assessed in many different ways 

    • We are selling our students short when we only provide one form of assessment to them in the classroom. Often times we assess students in a format that we feel is best without taking into account the variation in learning and output styles across students. Provide students with a choice in the way they are assessed. Some students prefer multiple choice, while some would much rather have an oral exam, because they are better at communicating their thoughts orally. We can’t be afraid to take our students out of these restrictive learning boxes that have been developed over the years. 

    – Bettany M. Valsin


    5 Things Every First-Year Teacher Should Know That People Won’t Always Tell You

    So you’ve just landed your first teaching job . You are super excited to share your great news with friends and family, and you are overjoyed about your new career. You begin to create a vision of what your classroom will look and feel like, you head to Pinterest to begin pinning ideas for your dream room , and you absolutely cannot wait until the first day of school. You receive a plethora of advice from former teachers, family, and friends you may have that are already in the field. But , there are some CRUCIAL  pieces of advice that people often leave out that could help to truly prepare you for your experience.

    1. Be Your Own Biggest Advocate

    No one will push for your needs the way that YOU will push for your needs. The fact that you are new should not be a reason to silence yourself if you know that something is not working for you or your students. Speak up sooner rather than later. Yes, you will have support from colleagues, but they cannot directly speak to your unique experience. Advocate for yourself unapologetically in order to ensure your peace and happiness within your career.

    2. Do Not Dim Your Light

    As the “new kid on the block”, it is so easy to feel as if you have to adjust yourself in order to be more similar to those who were there before you. Please remain cognizant of the fact that you were not hired to be a robot – you were hired because there was something great about you that you could bring to the team. Do not dim your light because you are new. Showcase your strengths, and put as much of your personality into your classroom as possible. Truly make it your own. If you put too much focus into assimilating with others, then you will not be able to feel like your authentic self when you’re standing in front of your classroom teaching. If anything, the field of education needs more people who are innovative instead of people who just want to duplicate and mimic what already exists.

    3. Be Vulnerable

    Your short-comings and weaknesses should be embraced as opportunities for growth. It isn’t always easy being open and upfront about what you are struggling with. The pressure of “I don’t want them to feel as if they made a mistake by hiring me” can be quite tempting, but you only fail yourself when you refuse to acknowledge the areas that you need more support in. Even the greatest teachers have areas of growth that they are still trying to find ways to improve in. Your colleagues will appreciate you more if you can be honest and direct about what supports you need.

    4. Take Ownership of Your Own Development

    You will partake in many different types of professional development as an educator that will help you to learn so much. I can’t stress enough how vital it is to take the initiative to find ways to develop yourself outside of the development you receive in the workplace. If there is something that you want to learn how to be more effective at , then you have to take it upon yourself to research and gather resources to find out more information. Read articles, watch videos, purchase books, and attend conferences that are geared towards an area of interest for you.

    5. Self-Reflection Is Necessary

    Don’t wait until the end of a quarter or the end of a semester to be reflective. Reflect as often as you can in order to make sure that you are becoming whom you desire to be as an educator. You will easily lose yourself and lose sight of your vision if you don’t take the time to pause , and evaluate how far you’ve come , and where you plan to go.