Friday Five: Student-Centered Classrooms

Friday Five: Student-Centered Classrooms

I’m changing up the Friday Five. To be honest, Friday Five is my least favorite series to write. Some weeks I have so much to say and other weeks I have almost nothing to say. I also felt like the posts weren’t really that valuable. So now, I am changing it up. Each week I’ll select a new topic and give five tips or insights into that topic. It will be quick and meaningful and easier for me to write. Really, a win for everyone! 


Flexible Seating & Classroom Design

Flexible seating isn’t just a fad. It also isn’t anything new. Designing your classroom space with your students in mind is important. Take a look around your classroom. How much teacher space is there? How much kid space is there? There should be more kid space than teacher space. I got rid of my teacher desk years ago and I never looked back. I sit at a table while working and kids can always sit at the table. They can even sit on the cool desk chair. If my table isn’t clean my kids can ask me to clean it off for them. All space in my room is everyone’s space. Now, that might not work for you so how can you ensure that kids have a lot of space in your classroom? Can you rearrange or push your desk against a wall? 

Flexible seating provides so many seating options for the kids. I have a little table low on the floor, two big comfy armchairs, a regular table with chairs, a table in a corner that is quieter, a standing table, and cushions to sit wherever. Kids spread out and find the area that works best for them. We don’t have assigned seats and kids can handle the choice. Providing a lot of options and letting them choose is such a great way to have a more student-centered classroom. 


Accessibility Student Supplies

If you want your classroom to be more student-centered kids shouldn’t have to ask for supplies. They should all be out. We have two supply areas in our classroom. Each area has pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, markers, crayons, glue sticks, a stapler, and scissors. Kids always know where they can get supplies. They also take responsibility for keeping them organized. Kids will call attention to the area when it isn’t tidy or when they haven’t been putting caps back on. They take care of the supplies and work together to make sure the supplies are well kept. It is great.

Similarly, all math manipulatives, writing supplies, and reading materials are out in the classroom. At any time kids have access to everything they need. 


Create Leaders

I’m sure you have class jobs in your classroom. This year I switched and called them leaders. Using the name leaders is more empowering for the students. I also hand over a lot of classroom work to them and we run our classroom together.

Technology leader is responsible for turning on and off our interactive tv and changing it to the right channel. They also turn on and off the lights as needed.

Clean Up Leaders encourage others to clean when it is time and the call students back to certain areas where more cleaning needs to happen.

Coat Room Leader makes sure everyone leaves the coatroom neat and tidy. They also check to make sure everyone’s shoes are put away and off the ground at the end of the day. 

We have many more leaders who help our classroom run smoothly. Working together helps to build a community of learners. 



Ask the Class

I constantly ask my class’s opinions on things. We work together to solve problems. Early in the year, we had a marker cap problem. They decided they wanted to track how many dead markers we found each week and work to make that number less and less. That’s what we did. They tracked the marker data on their own and the marker cap problem was solved. 

Our schedule had to be changed recently for literacy week. We sat down together and decided when we would relocate a few classes. It didn’t matter to me but they took great pride in rearranging and adjusting our schedule. 

Ask your class about their opinions whenever you can. Then take what they say to heart and use that to plan. They love having a say in what they do. Don’t you also love when you get a survey for a staff PD day? I love having my voice heard and so do your students. 


Monitor Your Talk Time

In a few days, there will be a whole post about teacher talk time. In order to create a more student-centered classroom, the students need to be talking more than the teacher. Teachers don’t need to parrot back everything a child has to say. We don’t need to interrupt kids sharing and add our own thoughts immediately. I try to follow the same guidelines that I have laid down for my students. Let me tell you, it is HARD. But I know that being a respectful member of my own classroom community is very important. Maybe take a day and tally every time you talk vs a student. Or start and stop a stopwatch for your talk time. Then try to talk less and have students talk more. What are some things you’re saying that should be their talking? 

There are so many ways to create a student-centered classroom. Please take a minute to share your tips, tricks, questions, and advice! 


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