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ASCD Author Carol Ann Tomlinson
Author Workshop

What Learner-Centeredness Is—or Ought to Be

At its core, learner-centeredness means placing the student at the heart of instructional practice and decision-making. It is not a teaching model but rather a set of principles and practices that should inform virtually all teaching models. It belongs in inquiry-focused classrooms, problem-based classrooms, project-based learning, community-based learning, classrooms centered on direct instruction, and most other approaches to teaching and learning as well. Learner-centeredness has implications for how we see ourselves as teachers, think about and relate to students, frame curriculum, use (and don't use) assessment, plan instruction, provide feedback, and think about concepts like equity, excellence, expectations, and empathy.

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About the Authors

Carol Ann Tomlinson is William Clay Parrish Jr. Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia's School of Education and Human Development, where she served as Chair of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy and Co-Director of the University's Institutes on Academic Diversity. She spent 21 years in public education, teaching students in high school, preschool, and middle school and administering programs for struggling and advanced learners. She was Virginia's Teacher of the Year in 1974. In 2022, Tomlinson was ranked #12 in the Education Week Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings of the 200 "university-based academics who are contributing most substantially to public debates about schools and schooling," and as the #4 voice in Curriculum & Instruction.

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So Each May Soar: The Principles and Practices of Learner-Centered Classrooms


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