Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We Are Student Centered


The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which oversees accreditation for virtually all schools in the Marianas, has a pretty cool nick name for its acronym, WASC: We Are Student Centered. That is a great way to think about education.

But what does it mean to be student-centered?

First, I think it means to focus not on teaching but on student learning. It doesn’t matter how great one’s lecture is if the students just don’t get it. A focus on learning shifts the attention away from how much the teacher knows to how much the student learns.

Second, being student-centered means respecting the goals and expectations of each student. Sometimes teachers assume that a student’s goals are the same as that of the school or of other students. However, students have different expectations of school and different goals in life. Educators must pay attention to those goals and expectations and incorporate them into their instructional design. Research has shown that making learning relevant to students is one of the most effective ways to improve their motivation and drive to learn.

Third, being student-centered means accommodating the different needs of different students. Students have different learning styles and personalities, all of which should be acknowledged and harnessed in the classroom. In education circles, the multiple-intelligences saying goes, “It’s not how smart are you, but how are you smart?” By building on one learning style that is strong, you can enhance a student’s other learning styles. Respecting the diverse, unique needs of students requires that we differentiate our instruction.

Fourth and last, being student-centered means truly caring for each and every student. I know this can be very hard in our day and age when students don’t respect teachers like they did in the “good old days”. (However, I often wonder how good were the good old days.) While students should definitely respect their teachers, we educators must remember: respect that is earned is better than respect that is commanded or demanded. We can earn the respect of our students by respecting them in the first place and by genuinely caring for them. Perhaps, when we care for them, they will begin to care for themselves and their learning.

As Maya Angelou so aptly put it, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And what better feeling to plant in students than the love for learning, for that love will take them farther than any lesson I could ever teach in a day or even a year.

7 comments:

CNMI Blogger said...

Love that quote from Maya Angelou. Thank you for all that you do for our students and for education. Keep it up!

Galvin Deleon Guerrero said...

And thank you for all that you do CNMI Blogger. Our CNMI is better as a result of all that you do.

David said...

Don't forget that WASC also stands for: Western Attitudes Shall Conquer.

Love,

The skunk at the picnic.

:-)

David said...

And one more, just because:

We Are Still Colonizers.

Beware who dictates the education agenda.

Galvin Deleon Guerrero said...

We
Are
So
Cynical

David said...

Yeah, but that's why you love having me around.

Whatever it means, WASC would still make a really cool punk band name.

Galvin Deleon Guerrero said...

There was the 80s metal band, W. A. S. P. I actually owned one of their cassettes.

To paraphrase Gwendolyn Brooks:

We
Are
So
Cool

And, yes, I do love having you around Dave.