Preparing all students to succeed in today’s increasingly complex world requires a shift from a teacher-centric culture to learner-centered instruction that recognizes students’ individual learning needs, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.
The report, Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centered Environment Powered by Digital Learning, examines the support that educators and schools will require to implement genuine teaching practices that are personalized for each student. Digital learning, the report argues, can be a major strategy for enabling teachers to meet varied students’ needs while also supporting necessary cultural shifts in teaching.
According to the report, learner-centered instruction is personalized, rigorous, and based on college- and career-ready expectations. It is also collaborative, relevant, and flexible, with learning taking place anytime or anywhere. A true shift to a learner-centered environment powered by effective technology requires a strong school culture that embodies, encourages, and focuses on the needs of each student, the report argues. Specifically, Culture Shift maintains that the integration of technology and digital learning, school leadership, and changes in the teaching profession are critical to the transition to this new culture.
Moving to a learner-centered model will require teachers to take on new professional responsibilities and roles in working with students and peers, the report finds. To be prepared for these new roles, teachers need support and professional learning opportunities to help them develop new skills that maximize the potential of digital learning and provide models and opportunities for improving practice.
Culture Shift acknowledges that providing effective professional learning opportunities presents a challenge for many districts and schools, but it argues that technology and digital learning can boost opportunities for quality professional learning by increasing flexibility in terms of time, providing access to more specialized courses, and enhancing exposure to peers and colleagues from around the world.
The report offers the following recommendations for education stakeholders, including state and district leaders, principals, teachers, and community and business leaders, seeking to transition schools to a learner-centered culture:
- Develop a deep understanding of what it means to have a learner-centered environment; identify the potential changes that must be made from the current instructional models; and create opportunities to discuss and observe learner-centered instruction among all parties involved in a student’s learning process.
- Provide school and district leaders with the professional learning opportunities needed to understand how to initiate and grow a strong learner-centered environment in a school.
- Empower school and district leaders to develop collaborative working environments for teachers that set high expectations and provide the support needed for educators and staff.
- Integrate technology and digital learning into the strategic planning and culture discussions within the school to maximize potential to support learner-centered environments, including the use of data and assessments, multiple types of digital content and curriculum, and collaborative opportunities for teachers and students.
- Elevate the profession of teaching by understanding the complexities of teaching very diverse students in a learner-centered environment; establish teacher effectiveness evaluations that support growth and take into account multiple variables; and align professional learning opportunities to evaluations.
To read the full report, please visit http://www.all4ed.org/files/CultureShift.pdf