Learn Like A Pirate {Common Concerns in Student-Led Classrooms}

Chapter 2 was all about common concerns most teachers would have about a student-led classroom.  I must admit that while I skimmed the chapter to read each reason, several concerns were ones I would give.
Here are the concerns that I could relate to:
  • Too much at stake - I teach in a high stakes grade level with state testing and actually in 8th grade in Texas, if they can't pass the reading test they are "supposed" to be held back.  This puts a lot of weight on my shoulders to make sure I am doing everything to help my students be most successful.  Student-led classrooms could actually help with the high stakes testing.  It helps allow the students to think deeper and problem solve without really any extra work on my part.  It is something that i will have to wrap my mind around, but I know it will benefit my students, especially those struggling because they will have even more peer support.
  • Too much work for me - As teachers, we feel like we have our hands full all of the time... between accommodations, paper work, meetings, & phone calls to be made.  Why would we want to add more to our plate.  With student-led classrooms, you give them the information they need and then step back so that they can practice the skills.  It is actually less work for me as a teacher.  I'll have time to walk around and talk to kids to monitor their learning and build rapport, which is a win-win for everyone.
  •  Not enough time to fit in curriculum - I have struggled this year trying to fit in everything my 8th graders were accountable for.  How on earth could I give them more freedom and fit everything in?  I could actually maximize my time with a student-led classroom.   I would be able to do more quick checks for understanding and application of skills.  A key point I loved with this was also give lessons ONLY the time they need.  Sometimes I spend longer on certain skills because they are my favorites.  I can definitely cut back on that.  Make sure I have covered everything and then revisit those that I love.
There were several more concerns that were dispelled in this chapter.  I really thought they were excuse killers as to why this wouldn't work in a certain classroom.
There were also 3 benefit to a student-led classroom discussed:
  • Increased retention - Students retain the most when they have to simulate, drama or lead.  With a student-led classroom, these are done on almost a daily basis.  They also learn the best by stating the questions and working towards finding the answer. You really need to make sure that they are able to transfer skills to real life, so that it will be useful to them.
  • More time for feedback - As a teacher you are able to walk around and provide guidance and spot the strugglers before they hit their frustration level.  Students will also be able to learn from their peers, which for most doesn't seems as threatening.
  • Teacher evaluation - All students are graded based on what administrators see when they walk through the classroom.  They are looking for student-led activities and learning to be happening.  This model will help out the teacher along with the students in the long run.
Head over and check out what my other bloggy friends are saying while you wait with anticipation for next week.


  1. This book sounds very interesting and I like the idea but am hesitant myself because we are required to sue a specific curriculum - SpringBoard - And I am not sure if it would work with student leaders. I'll have to think more creatively. :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  2. Reading this post Sandy, makes me feel as though you really "get it!" I look forward to reading your future posts on "Learn Like a PIRATE!" Thanks for taking the time to share!


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