top of page

Teacher creates student-centered classrooms

LKSD Best Practice #1

Student-centered classrooms are those where the focus of instruction is shifted from the teacher to the students. The end goal is that students will be autonomous and independent thinkers. 

When students know what's expected of them and have access to learning resources, we see them take ownership over their learning. Further, this enables the teacher to spend extra time with those students who need it.

At the end of the day, students should be more tired than their teachers.

Framework for Success


Learners interact through team learning by teaching and supporting each other


Ensures the learners are empowered to create their own activities and select their own authentic materials


During the learning process, students integrate what they have learned with prior learning to construct new meaning

Key Points for Implementation


Provide Options

Passion & Interest



Arrange desks/ tables to promote collaboration

Allow for the element of choice when assigning projects. Learning must matter to the learner; sometimes it's necessary for us to modify our expectations to meet students where they are. 

Honor students' passion and interests:

  • When providing options for a project, students are able to choose which one interests them the most. This leads to increased ownership, responsibility and autonomy

  • Embed students' names in word problems or stories

  • Use local examples when possible 

Using open-ended questions in assessments gives students the opportunity to reflect and summarize what they've learned. 

Provide regular feedback so students know how they can improve. Feedback should:

  • be both specific and academically focused 

  • be regular ​

  • be provided by students to each other 

  • support and validate

LKSD Best Practices Classroom Levels of Support

When we require students to actively seek out an answer or further information, we give them the opportunity to think critically and for themselves.  This then promotes long-term knowledge retention.

Click here to download a pdf of this graphic

Teacher Showcase
Quinhagak 2023


Credit: Teacher Athos Spinola, 6th Grade

What we see:

A daily agenda with associated times posted on the board. Teacher Athos actively reviews these daily benchmarks with his class as part of his structured routine. In doing so, after just a couple of months, students are able to self- direct and adjust their time management in order to know what’s coming and how they need to prepare themselves. This cuts down on squirrelly behavior while promoting self- regulation.

Credit: Teacher Samantha Alexander,

High School Math

What we see:

Samantha provides weekly outlooks for each class by neatly displaying the learning objectives for each class as well as overarching expectations. This method preempts students’ curiosity related to, “What are we doing today?” This strategy is grade level appropriate and communicates the academic expectations for the week. An added benefit is that this also helps the teacher to stay on track by keeping an eye on her pacing and planning.

What about social emotional learning? 

… student centered learning champions student choice and facilitates connections among students, embracing the philosophy that, for a student to truly learn, they must be actively involved in the process. 

Latham, J. (n.d.) 

Transforming Education. (2020). Trauma Informed SEL. Transforming Education.   

A student’s behavior is not necessarily about us. Instead, it may be a reflection of where their focus might be. By keeping this in mind, we are better equipped to design instruction and interact with our students. 

As part of trauma-informed practice, schools can:

  • Create physically and psychologically safe environments for all staff and students

  • Realize both the widespread impact of trauma and the role of schools in promoting resiliency

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in students, family, and staff

  • Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices

  • Resist re-traumatization of students and staff and foster resiliency

Strategies for fostering a student-centered classroom

  1. Communicate clear expectations - and stick to them! 

  2. Give students a voice

  3. Increase student choice

  4. Promote reflection and reflective practice

  5. Encourage classroom collaboration

  6. Help students set personal learning goals

  7. Take a step back and let the students be the captain of their ship


Latham, J. (n.d.) Complete Guide to Student-Centered vs. Teacher-Centered Learning. University of San Diego. 

Oregon Department of Education. (n.d.). Trauma Informed Practices in Schools.

bottom of page