Transforming Student Learning Through Empowerment

Empowerment ~ Collaboration ~ Innovation ~ Impact

These buzzwords in education keep flying at us, we hear them from multiple sources.  What do they mean and where do you begin to implement them into an already busy school day?

Creating a student-centered classroom where students are empowered to take control of their own learning can be very intimidating for a teacher.  We were trained to teach, to follow the chapter, give assignments, administer tests, assign grades, and repeat.  However, today’s students demand more!

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed, the vision pulls you.”  ~Steve Jobs

There are two small and powerful ways to start.  Our district has empowered teachers with Project Based Learning.  PBL, when done well, empowers students to solve authentic problems through collaboration and critical thinking to arrive at a learning goal.  The role of the teacher is to create learning opportunities based on content standards and concepts, further the inquiry through questioning and provide inspiration, not answers.  The teacher is the guide allowing the student to take charge of the process of learning.  The teacher assists students in finding the best audience to share their learning.

PBL is step one, but is there more?

Once PBL is embedded into the culture of your classroom the next step is to empower students with the ability to choose their own learning.  Commonly called, Genius Hour or Passion Projects, this is the highest form of student-empowered learning.  Students are given time during the school day to follow something they are passionate about.  They are given permission to be innovative and create something new.  The student owns the process from beginning to end.  They choose the topic, they choose the path, they choose the product.  It’s all up to them, the learning, the struggle, the failure, the success!  The best part, as the teacher, you get to experience this amazing journey with your students.  You get to support them, encourage them, fail with them, celebrate with them, and in the end reflect with them.

If you are looking for something different, something more, give it a try!  Why wait?  If you’d like help getting started, moving forward, or revamping what you are already doing, contact me.  I would love to have a conversation with you!

Questions for further discussion:

How do you build a community of learners in your classroom?

What ways have you created opportunities for student-empowered learning?

What are some challenges you face when moving students from engagement to empowerment?

How can student-centered learning spaces aid in student-centered learning?

Being innovative is a mindset, not a skillset, how do you model this shift in mindset for your classroom?

How can being reflective help us to be innovative?