Ready for the Challenge: Ideas and Evidence from Student-Centered Learning in a Pandemic

Ready for the Challenge: Ideas and Evidence from Student-Centered Learning in a Pandemic

Welcome to a year-long blog series that looked at the potential of student-centered learning to better serve students in the pandemic—and beyond.

Read on to explore learning practices, strategies for measuring success, and overall ideas and evidence as we embrace a more student-centered future. More context on the series is in the kick-off post.

Other ways to catch key ideas and evidence from the series:

Part 1: School Profiles

At UCLA Community School, student-centered learning means honoring identity and core needs
Acknowledging and celebrating our shared humanity matters just as much as attending to individual differences—especially in a global pandemic.
At Norris Academy, real-world connections and career exploration drive student learning
For a program already built around students mastering learning outcomes at their own pace, the pandemic was a bump in the road—not a seismic shift.
At Crosstown High, student agency flourishes on a bedrock of strong relationships
A culture of care, trust, and persistent checking-in means students stay plugged in—whether in-person or over distance.
At West Hawaii Explorations Academy, students drive inquiry into the natural world
For a school that centers hands-on learning among sharks and coral, the pandemic required reimagining the spaces and schedules of learning
At Spring Lake Park Schools, students and teachers buoy districtwide innovation
In a district used to exploring different ways of personalizing learning, Covid-19 accelerated new approaches to keeping students at the center
UCLA Community School students reflect: Learning as a comunidad in a pandemic
Relationships of grace and trust carried this student-centered high school community through a most difficult year

Part 2: Analysis

Rethinking student engagement: from "showing up" to active and deep participation
Why schools see engagement as a critical ingredient for student-centered learning—and how they measure it with integrity
Leading with wellness: tracking and supporting mental health to unleash learner potential
How student-centered schools made wellness a priority—both before and during the pandemic
Stories as evidence: capturing unsung learning in immeasurable ways
How student-centered schools looked to narrative data to document student learning during the pandemic.
What should accountability look like for student-centered learning?
Picture a mirror, not a hammer—helping answer objectively: How are we doing? Where can we improve?

Part 3: Conclusion and Key Lessons

Key student-centered practice in a pandemic? None. Rather: a culture of adaptation.
Being student-centered isn’t a static “thing you do”, but an approach of continually adjusting—both for each student and school-wide