The key for educator’ success in the classroom is to make learning the priority. It’s that simple. If students cannot learn to teach themselves, what then is the purpose of education?

Marc Prensky stridently stated in 2001: “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” Given the overwhelming social upheavals that children face, combined with their digitally-wired brains, we have little choice but to respond to them in new and innovative ways.

Teaching from the Middle of the Room confronts this crisis by encouraging educators to shift from delivering knowledge and skills to concentrating instead on what students learn in our classrooms every day. The intention of teaching is, after all, to cause learning. It’s not what we teach—essential as it may seem—but what students learn that counts. When we make this shift, we step away from the front of the room to teach from the middle, alongside students to interact and connect with their learning; to enrich their thinking, creativity, and communication; and to assess their progress, make accommodations, and adjust to their needs as necessary.

Unless we commit to this shift, students will never learn how to teach themselves. Having an education ultimately means to learn and to know how to learn. We can be instrumental in this process only by making it possible for students to learn from us and with us. Students can be instrumental in this process only when their minds become engaged and committed to worthwhile pursuits. Otherwise, they are wasting their time in our classrooms.

See Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn (Stetson Press, 2010) for more hard thinking about what matters in teaching. Purchase at