Create A Student-Centered Classroom

The concept of student-centered learning is truly revolutionary. It shifts the agency of learning from the teacher or the curriculum to the student. It also presumes that each student is an individual and learns in a completely unique way.

Creating a student-centered learning environment begins with the teacher acknowledging all students learn differently. For many teachers, this insight is based on their own personal journey as learners. This identification with students as learners is the student-centered teacher’s greatest asset.

The Classroom Culture

The classroom culture is a small-scale version of the larger school culture. The student-centered classroom reflects the school’s mission carried out on an individual basis student-by-student beginning with the teachers deeply knowing their students as learners.

The teacher actively shapes the learning environment to meet the educational needs of individual students. Finally, teachers arrange learning activities that will activate the engagement of each student.

Continuing Learning

Creating a student-centered classroom involves teachers employing every tool in their tool kit – insight, empathy, research-based practices, and collaboration with colleagues – to create an environment conducive to different types of learners. Our own Laura Benson, ISS Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, regularly travels to international schools around the world to learn and model best teaching and learning practices. Hear more about her journey and insights.

What’s Happening In Classroom Equipment

Creating an environment that is conducive to learner agency is key. Makerspace materials are a growing trend, regularly appearing on school’s shopping lists, according to ISS’s Keith Cincotta, who oversees the cost-effective purchasing and delivery of school supplies to hundreds of schools across a variety of trends. Thinking through your learning space can help you promote discovery and engagement. Read more about Agile Spaces in our recent article.

Maximizing Learning Opportunities

Learning happens everywhere and when students get involved, learner agency blossoms. The faculty advisor at NCPA deeply values the holistic experience and how the students embraced the challenge of a student-run store: “The students continue to impress me with their leadership skills and their commitment to making the store a success.” Read More »


From Level 5 workshops, like “Practical Strategies for Inclusion: Everyday Equity” to highly-engaged TwitterChats on Inclusive Learning, you gain a deeper understanding and peer-tested examples about how to fully cultivate personalized learning environments to help each child succeed.

Stay Connected

Curriculum-focused SLACK channels, TwitterChats, blogs, and daily sharing on #issdu keeps you connected with the happenings in international schools everywhere. Stay connected with ISS to hear stories of educators putting these tools into practice and dive into professional development opportunities that continue to build your personal tool kit.

Team Tips

“Many learning issues we might attribute to behavioral, social-emotional, or academic difficulties are, in fact, language difficulties. When teaching English-Language Learners look at them through the “language lens” first.”

– Dick Moore

Team Tips

“Looking for a simple way to add agility to your learning space? Stick tennis balls on the legs of a traditional school desk; now it can slide around the room!”

– John Burns

Team Tips

“Student choice in reading and writing are critical in growing students’ agency and confidence. Strive for an 80-20 balance – Students choose their reading texts and writing topics 80% of the time and engage in assigned or guided literacy 20% of the time.”

– Laura Benson

Team Tips

“Analyze any new initiative or program through the lens of student learning. In what way will it improve the quality of student experience at your school? Avoid “faditis”. Always attempting to implement the newness latest and greatest programs will burn out your faculty which in turn takes the focus off the needs of your students.”

– Bruce McWilliams

Team Tips

“Remember to provide room in your school’s budget for hosting visiting authors, poets, musicians, artists, and other experts to create authentic, real-world learning experiences for your students.”

– Dick Moore

Team Tips

“In education, our success is always measured by someone else’s growth and performance. Focus on the growth of students and the rest will fall into place.”

– Dale Cox

Team Tips

“A contemporary classroom needs the tools to reach all students. A well equipped classroom today is flexible, practical, integrates technology seamlessly and is bright and open. ”

– Keith Cincotta

Team Tips

“Start with a cookie, a glass of milk, a good book, then go from there. ”

– Stephen Plisinski

Join The Family

Share and connect with the wider co-created community! Tag your posts and follow other international educators on #issedu.

Stay up to date with the life of ISS and
our wonderful international community.

Check Out These Great Articles

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School Supply Checklist

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Keep Growing, Create A Student-Centered Classroom

What Is Your Next Step?

As a nonprofit organization, ISS is dedicated to supporting you and developing all aspects of a strong, vibrant school. Each year, we work with more than 800 international schools and thousands of teachers across our suite of services to help you achieve your goals.

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