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How Would You Like to Be Led?

Updated: May 7, 2022

Traditionally, teaching has been teacher-led.

The teacher stands mostly in the front of the room, perhaps in front of a board.

Students are seated in rows with desks and chairs.

Maybe the teacher is writing on the board with the expectation that students are to copy down what has been written.

In the process of writing, students are also looking at the teacher and listening to what she/he is saying.

And perhaps asking and answering questions.


That's a lot.

Especially when you are only in the third grade!!

  • write

  • look

  • listen

  • ask questions

  • answer questions


  • process information...

  • figure out how to hold your pencil... oh wait... it's not sharpened!

  • get a piece of paper from your friend...

  • can't see the board...

  • forgot your glasses...

So much of what is happening in this traditional teaching scenario is content-based.

The teacher has a job to deliver the content, and often, is given the specific way in which to deliver it.

But what if the content is delivered (i.e. tells students what they need to know) and 35% of the class doesn't "get it"? Or they are only able to regurgitate it back with no real meaning or application?

This is not teaching. It's not engaging. And it certainly is not preparing students to "dig deeper" and think critically.

What if we shifted to student-led or student-centered learning?

The ultimate goal of education is not the teaching, but the learning.

In student-centered learning, students are given more options on what they learn and more importantly, how they learn. The role of the teacher shifts from sharing information to facilitating the learning of students.

The teacher provides:

  • parameters on how understanding of content will be measured and celebrated

  • modeling on how to "think", asking guiding questions and challenging students to look further

  • rubrics, rather than a grade, so students are responsible for the work that they accomplish

  • options on how the learning will be shared (i.e. orally, written, media creations)

  • flexibility on how students engage with each other (i.e. work alone, work with a partner, work in a group)

Simply put, students hold responsibility for their own learning while the teacher facilitates what is happening in the classroom.

In our ever changing society, it is important that we are growing critical thinkers, not children that can regurgitate information. Retelling and recalling information has a low "depth of knowledge", and the information is often lost because it doesn't mean anything.

Sounds like my high school chemistry class...

I sat, took notes, listened, didn't understand a single thing, and got a D. Sorry, Mr. K...

The ultimate engagement is to put the learner in charge of learning. -Ben Johnson

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