A student centred approach to classroom management

The original and fundamental assumption behind this approach was that parents and teacher’s control children’s behaviour and this can have a very negative effect on child development. There is a long tradition in psychology that supports this type of classroom approach. A student centred approach intends to encourage independence and to allow children to choose their own behaviour.

in a student centered classroom the teacher:

  • allows the sharing of decision making and control of the class
  • allows personal and group initiatives
  • delegates the responsibility for behaviour to the learners
  • encourages active participation towards the fulfillment of mutual goals

understanding the nature of the problem is central to this approach:

  • identify the source of the problem
  • the teacher should be listening to what may be the underlying “problem/message” and not what appears to be the problem
  • encourage learners to speak openly
  • allow learners to change behaviour rather than reinforcing accusations
  • language development, thoughts, feelings, age, and reasoning ability, may restrict the teacher’s use of logical argument

this approach implies ‘active listening’:

  • silence is golden and poowerful
  • listening shows willingness to help and accept. It is a powerful tool


  • prompt learners to express themselves
  • and then actively listen
  • afterwards, respond
  • look for ‘door openers’
  • help to enlighten ’cause and effect’

Prerequisites of student centered teacher:

  • trusts the learners’ ability to solve their own problems
  • genuinely accept students’ feelings
  • is with the students – shows warmth, compassion, feeling
  • encourages openness of feelings, emotions – is not be afraid of emotions
  • promotes privacy and confidentiality – builds trust and respect – eliminates gossip

a student centered teacher

  • mirrors student by feedback: clarifies; promotes inquiry, discussion and questioning,
  • allows learners to explore their feelings
  • allows learners freedom to think for themselves and provides minimal evaluative feedback.
  • do not judge, tell, probe or use lecturing style techniques.

The intended outcomes of the student centred approach:

  • promotes willingness to listen
  • promotes a greater sense of self-worth
  • creates more meaningful relationships between people
  • the teacher displays a caring attitude
  • discipline problems decrease significantly as relationships develop

The goals of discipline:

  • Because learners have more opportunity to decide how to learn individually, there should be a tendency to have less behavioural management problems.
    • Boredom and failure, two of the main causes of behavioural problems, are virtually eliminated.
  • The teacher is cast as a facilitator of learning, not a dictator of information. One who is seen as a reference, a guide, a source, and a guide to the growth and development of the intellectual child.

Using this method, traditional punishment and extrinsic reward discipline is largely diminished. Three proponents of the student centred approach are: Thomas Gordon, Abraham Maslow, Steven Krashen and Carl Rogers. In the TEFL world look at Rinvolucri, Chris Sion, Wajnryb, Paul Davis and A. Underhill.

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One Comment

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