Mr Kemp NZ

Get students in the “front” of the classroom

Today’s blog post is a special guest blogpost by Starr Sackstein. Starr is an amazing member of my twitter PLN and produces some amazing ideas. Enjoy this great read!

You’re probably doing too much if you are working harder than your students.

Long nights grading papers or planning lessons, lecturing for 40 minutes at a clip while your students are slowly drifting into peaceful, unengaged sleep.

You’re trying too hard with little reward, so I’m sure you’d agree that something has to change and guess what, it won’t be your kids. Changes in the classroom start with the teacher.

It’s time to set yourself free and relinquish control. Push the driver’s seat up and readjust the mirror and allow the kids to give it a test drive. You won’t regret it.

Students learn better when they are autonomous. They are more invested in their own growth and progress and intrinsically motivated to develop themselves as people. When we give them the space to do this, they surprise even themselves. This is also gives us the opportunity to help each of them in specific ways, the purest and most effective differentiation.

Here are some simple ways you can start empowering your kids to be the masters of their own learning:

•     Teach classes through projects using the workshop model

•     Consider flipping your classroom for direct instruction

•     Always provide choice in content

•     Always provide choice in process

•     Always provide choice in product for kids to show what they know

•     Be transparent in why students are learning what they are

•     Help students make connections to other learning

•     Help students see the value in the time they are spending on your work

•     Invite students to be a part of the process of creating content

•     Maintain a collaborative and flexible classroom where all people are lead learners at different times

•   Never assert yourself as the only one who knows

•   Value each child and what they can bring to enhance the classroom

•   Develop relationships with students so you know how to empower each of them

When we allow students to take control of their own learning, they are invested in the outcome and we are better able to aid in their growth through conference time and specific individualized action plans.

How can you make your classroom more autonomous? If you are already in a student-centered classroom, share your successes.


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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I flipped my IGCSE Geography classroom this semester – awesome! Project-based learning, students designed assessments with a variety of final products (we called them ‘learning artefacts’ – highlight of my year! I found myself nodding through most of your article, as someone who has been down this path I can affirm you are very correct in your assertions!

    • That’s so great to hear. To be honest, every time I try something new that I’d “been meaning to try” and it works out so well even on its maiden voyage, I’m always like “why didn’t I do this sooner?” Seems silly, but we get so caught up sometimes. I’m glad it’s working out for you

  • I love this list! Starr, you’re completely right about the ‘no duh’ factor after you try something new. That’s part of what I would add to this list – talk to your kids about what’s gone right and wrong in your preparation process. A lot of kids think that we come up with stuff out of thin air. I’ve found that showing how I prepare serves as a model that students (hopefully) follow as they embark on their own work.

    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it.


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