Students As Teachers

On the ride over to Raleigh on Tuesday, several students and I got into a discussion on the subject of students and teachers. (We have pretty frequent conversations about pedagogy in my classes, and it’s one of my favorite subjects to talk to kids about.) One of my students suggested that she thought students should be the teachers at teacher school.

I was grinning ear to ear as, over the course of the next 2 hours, my students became teachers for those attending the MEGA (Middle Educators Global Activities) showcase at the NCState Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. They showed teachers, tech specialists, and school district administrators some of the good work they’ve been doing in their classes this year. They also had the opportunity to share the ways in which they’ve added content and customized their blogs on their own.

Students had had zero prep for the event, and even I wasn’t a 100% sure what to expect. I told them that we would just think of it as an adventure and do our best to tell the story of what we do in our classroom.

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One thing that really impressed me was that my students not only told people about their blogs and tablets, but also showed them what the technology could do. I heard them saying things like: “Here let me show you how you embed an object.” or “Would you like to try writing with the stylus?”

Very occasionally there was a technical question that students didn’t know the answer to, so I would step in to answer. The incredible part was that without my prompting students then worked this information into their presentation to the next visitor. (“We use WordPressMu as our blogging platform.” or “A pingback creates a comment on your post when another person links to it in their post.”)

The moment I knew they’d hit their stride was when a student suavely reached down and took one of my business cards. She handed it to the teacher and said, “Here’s Ms. Stewart’s card. You can access her blog at this address, and you can get to our blogs from there.”

As we were leaving one of my students said, “That was amazing! I felt so smart. I was explaining things to adults that they didn’t know, and they were impressed.”

Thanks to Sophia, Niara, Melissa, and Shreyas for representing our school so well!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A quick video of the students in action.

Student of the Tool

I find it interesting that many teachers feel like they must know the content they want their students to learn before they teach it. And yet, they are unwilling to use for themselves the tools they want their students to use in the classroom before they use them with students.

It’s ok if you don’t know all the content. That’s not possible in the world in which we live anyway. Discover along with students.

It’s ok if you’re not the complete master of tool before you give it to a student. But your students’ experience will be all the richer if you also have been a student of the tool.

I don’t want to make the separation between content and tool too neat. I hope teachers are guides and students of both.