‘One size does not fit all’ when it comes to providing the best education for every student.
NISCE is a program of Schools for Children, which has been dedicated to creating and managing schools and other educational services in New England for more than thirty years. What we have learned in our programs—what we see every day— is that education is most effective, most inspiring, and most powerful when the student is the focus and when teaching, curricula, administration and related services coalesce around a student-centered experience
Our teachers’ and administrators’ expertise and insights are reflected in the approaches featured in our schools: Lesley Ellis School, Dearborn Academy, Seaport Academy and the STEP Program. Advice and support from outside experts and educators from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Children’s Hospital Boston, the Hallowell Center, Lesley University and others, have helped our schools develop innovative curricula, specialized student supports and creative educational services. These programs demonstrate in large and small ways the extraordinary value of teaching students as the individuals they are.
With the participation of educators from the Schools for Children programs, NISCE is developing and distributing a series of white papers on topics in student-centered education. We aim to extend this effort by collaborating with other organizations, schools and researchers in the future on additional titles. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please email Executive Director Paul Stein at email@example.com.
New papers will be added here as they become available.
Download NISCE White Papers
This paper extends the definition of ‘student-centered education’ beyond its traditional use, noting that it is “not a single technique or single model. Rather it is a set of attitudes, skills and considerations that affect the way an educator or school will approach learners. It recognizes the individuality of each student and, by extension, the primary importance of the relationship between learners and teachers.” The author (Mark Dix of Dearborn Academy High School) reviews the educational continuum and reflects on ways that widely different types of schools can apply the core principles of this educational approach in their work with students of all types. In the effort to create effective educational practices, the author argues that “… we will do well to respect the individuality of the child and the limits of our relationship as well as its power, while keeping in mind that our goal and purpose is to nurture the unfolding of each student’s best potentials.”
This document builds on the earlier white paper and attempts to characterize the elements that make a school more or less ‘student-centered.’ Drawing on research into creating positive school cultures, developing intentional relationships and building outstanding leadership, the author then introduces an instructional model for consideration. Dubbed the “NISCE Instructional Model,” it reflects a belief in supporting the ‘whole teacher’ as a means for teaching the ‘whole student.’ The model notes the centrality of intentional relationships to the introduction of more balanced and diverse assessments and developmentally appropriate differentiated instruction. The combination of these elements is seen as the heart of building student engagement and, ultimately, successful student learning. The NISCE Instructional Model gains its validity both from formal research into its core elements and from practical experience in creating the student-centered approaches in each of the diverse schools operated by Schools for Children.