As a newly minted member of the Students at the Center Hub team at Jobs for the Future, there was a lot to wrap my head around. Throughout the day-long forum, however, there were a few key conversations and sessions that had me thinking more deeply, not just about student-centered learning and how to advance it in my own work, but also about education in general. I gleaned that progress toward more student-centered approaches at scale will involve lots of innovation and will be a little bit messy, but there is a willingness and appetite to continue the good, deep work that is happening in schools and districts across Massachusetts.
Here are a few of my takeaways:
Student voice is imperative in any conversation about student-centered learning.
We had a chance to hear from three students about how student-centered learning practices and approaches changed their educational outcomes. Nothing moved me more than hearing a former student of Alternative Choices in Education, a competency-based program at Brookline High School, say, “I felt empowered because I chose to be in [the Alternative Choices in Education program] and I was empowered because my choice made me successful. Now, I want to be a teacher; I want to make sure that students know that I care about them.” Students can truly be empowered through education and through their teachers to find their voices and be agents of equity and empathy in education today and in the future. Hearing firsthand about the impact of student-centered learning in these students’ lives was a highlight for me.
Our educational system needs to be malleable to prepare students for the future.