What does student-centered learning look like in real-life classrooms? In this collection, educator Bill Nave and nine award-winning K–12 teachers tell the story of how and why they changed their teaching and redesigned their classrooms in order to “reach every child.”
They reflect on their successes and struggles to put students in charge of their own learning and reveal strategies that make this possible. These teachers, who mostly work in schools with a high percentage of students living in poverty:
prioritize relationships with students and their families;
build supportive classroom cultures at the start of each year;
tailor assignments to individual student interests, strengths, and challenges;
create opportunities for students to choose how they will demonstrate their learning; and
seek regular opportunities to connect students to learning outside the classroom.
Ultimately, Nave argues, student-centered learning is not just something for special teachers or special schools. On the contrary, it is possible for all teachers—no matter what setting they teach in—to become extraordinary and for students to develop and realize their own unique personal goals.
Bill Nave, EdD, is a program evaluation and research consultant living in Winthrop, Maine. From 1968 to 1993, he taught science to students in New York and Maine in grades 6 through 12 and created programs for at-risk students and high school dropouts. He was selected as Maine’s 1990 Teacher of the Year, was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year, and received a Milken Educator Award for his work in the River Valley School for dropouts. Since completing his doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2000, he has conducted program evaluations of teacher professional development programs and curriculum development programs, among others, with a primary focus on science and math programs.