20 Indicators your Adult Teaching Creates a Learner-Centered Classroom Setting

I was giving a short presentation on learner-centered teaching when I asked the audience the following question: “What does a learner-centered classroom look like?”  

The answers I got were many but filled with hesitation. Then I realized that every time I ask this question, I tend to get the same hesitation-filled answers. Based on my experience, most teachers believe their classes are student-centered. But are they really?  

Saying a class is learner-centered is easy. But describing what a learner-centered classroom looks like tends to be difficult. Why? Because the concept seems blurry for many people.

But one participant came clean to me. She said, “I am not sure whether my class fits the requirements or not.” And she asked me, “ How do I know whether it does?”

My first response was this: “A learner-centered teacher doesn’t teach average lessons or give activities for average learners. He teaches for all students.” 

Then I shared these 20 signs of a learner-centered classroom:

1- Student Voice

Learners actively participate in decision-making and are comfortable sharing their opinions, thoughts, and feelings.

2- Clear Routines

Learners know what’s going on, what to expect, what to do, and where to the find resources they need in the classroom.

3- Community

There’s a shared sense of community, and students use each other as resources.  

4- Secure Atmosphere

Learners are relaxed and not afraid to be themselves.

5- Attendance 

Attendance is always high. Why? Because no learner wants to miss out on the good stuff (projects, discussions, presentations, learning).

6- Teacher-Student Interaction

Learners’ interactions show mutual respect, and shared control and responsibilities.

7- Emotion and Feelings 

Learners feel welcome in the classroom setting and are treated with care and respect.

8- Differentiated Instructions

 Students get to meet key standards by working on content they like at their own pace, and they create learning products that match their level of readiness, and their personal and career goals.

9- Feedback

 Learners get specific comments on what they do well and corrective suggestions that allow them to refine their work and skills.

10- Student Collaboration

Learning activities involve students analyzing and discussing content, negotiating meaning, making joint decisions, and creating products to showcase their comprehension.

11- Talking Time

 Students do most of the talking as well as most of the work.  

12- Mistakes

Mistakes are common and welcome in the classroom. And learners are encouraged to try to practice new skills without fear of being judged.  

13- Student Needs

Student needs are at the center of all instructional decisions and practices, driving learning activities and objectives.

14- Engaging Process

Learners spend the major part of their time on learning tasks. There’s no downtime, except for short breaks here and there.

15- Engaging Content

 Materials are presented in manageable chunks in a variety of ways (videos, text, graphics, storytelling, and so on) to trigger student curiosity and connect with their reality.

16- Learning Projects

Learning projects reflect a learner’s choices and preferences and are based on real-world situations.

17- Time Management 

The teachers and students share control of the clock and hold each other accountable.

18- Learning Transfer

There are well planned and well designed extension activities or projects that connect classroom learning and practices to the real world.

19- Learning How to Learn 

Teacher and students discuss study skills and best ways to learn and master the target content.

20- Reflection/Metacognitive

 Students have time and space to contemplate how they best think, work, and learnthat is, to reflect on identifying key issues, make adjustments, and request appropriate help.

Now go make learning happen for your adult students!

Any questions? Write them in the comment section. 

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The coach

Teddy Edouard is a Learning Consultant & an Instructional Coach with a passion for Teaching, Learning, and Cognitive Science. He is on a mission to help institutions, teachers, and training professionals maximize the effectiveness of their instructional and non-instructional interventions. Teddy translates adult learning theories and other research into ready-to-use classroom teaching tips and strategies for the benefits of adult learners and instructors.

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