Students Take Charge of Learning

Anjali Kok and Kylie Millican

Due to the consistently low scores on standardized testing over the years, classrooms district wide are becoming more student focused

The program is called “Modern Teacher” and is expected to be beneficial for the students. Principal, Chris Farabee said that giving students a choice for their learning will greatly increase motivation and interest.

“We’re just trying to be responsive to what students are experiencing outside of school. You know, when you want to learn about a topic in 3-5 seconds you can get on a computer and have access to thousands of articles about something that interests you,” Farabee said. “We are trying to bridge that gap between what students are experiencing outside of the school, may be experiencing in the workplace and in a traditional brick and mortar school.”

Schools all over the country have already been making the transition to a student-centered classroom and it is impacting not only the educators but the students as well. 

“It will be a slow, gradual process. I think some classes naturally lend themselves to implementing it earlier or faster than others,” Farabee said. “There are some classes on our campus now that have already been doing this organically without this happening. With some, it will just be slowly implemented with how they see it fit in with their curriculum.” 

Spanish teacher, Allison Meads has been implementing the change through the use of Google Classroom. Meads said that while it’s been a trial and error, she has seen improvements among her students.

“It is hard. It can be done, but it will look different in every subject and there are some basic things that can be done in every subject,” Meads said. “For example, foreign language is going to be much different than a math class, but there are key components that can be brought to every classroom”

After almost a semester of teaching with the student-centered method, the experience has taught her new ways to teach and help her students. Meads said that she has seen students take more ownership over what they’re learning and the method they use. 

“They kind of just do their own thing and it’s just interesting to see how that the way I’ve been teaching things and seeing how students prefer to learn like watching YouTube videos.” Meads said. “And it doesn’t mean that I am not teaching my kids it’s just I might do it in small group teaching and somebody else might want to do it independently. So I just noticed more people taking their time where maybe I would have rushed through something and they take more time to learn the content.”

While not all classes have Sophomore, Allie Hastings said that the new method has helped her a lot, but she isn’t too sure of how well it works for her peers.

“So obviously the students who care will do it,” Hastings said. “But you can’t make kids who don’t care about school suddenly care about it by being like ‘Oh you can do it yourself now’. Because they’re not wanting to work anyways so doing it themselves is just counterintuitive.”

Even though the student-centered classroom format has shown generally positive results, Hasting believes that a good mix of both student-centered and teacher-centered classroom would show more results, especially with her own learning.

“Everythings bound to get old, because the students will start learning how to abuse the system and then teachers will start realizing that maybe it isn’t as effective,” Hastings said. “Like teacher-centered classes, it probably was effective at one point but times have changed, so now it’s kind of boring. But this is all new so we’re all excited to try it.”

The shift to a student-centered classroom did make many curious about how it would go. Sophomore, Faith Davis was excited to see what the change had in store for her, but soon found its negative aspects.

“At first I thought that the student-centered classroom would be amazing because I would finally be in charge of my own learning,” Davis said. “But as we’ve been doing it in Spanish, I haven’t been learning nearly as much as I did before we switched. It feels like I go into my class and just sit there. It’s hard to hold myself accountable to my work because who’s gonna make me work?”

Teachers have also noticed students’ attitude towards the change. Chemistry teacher, Kirk Rundle said that while he was introducing the student-centered classroom structure to his students he could see how skeptical they were.

“People are afraid of change even if it may bring good things. And so if you have been able to be reasonably successful or if you’re comfortable with your grades and the way things have been going in your education with the teacher-centered approach, why take the risk?” Rundle said. “So I understand that some kids are that way. But I think that there are a number of kids that think that it’s a way that can potentially free them up from a lot of the constraints that they’ve had in their education and give them a bit more independence to achieve rather than being so structured. You know round peg, square hole things. You will fit in, but not all kids fit in.”