The first portion of my 8 year-old’s parent teacher conference a couple weeks ago was student-led, during which she was able to share her desire to be given serious responsibilities. As a result, her wonderful teacher allowed her to teach a math lesson.
She came home brimming with pride–and with a new career aspiration. And I’ve been reflecting on the this ever since. I know that when I was teaching myself, I did not often provide these experiences, which is why I greatly admire teacher like:
- Mindy Slaughter (see her fabulous getting-started post on student-led workshops with her 4th graders)
- Taryn Bond-Clegg (she includes a helpful section on student-led workshops in “Supporting Students’ Agency Take Two)
- Kristie Gibson (great description on allowing students to opt-in or opt-out of offered workshops)
I’m looking forward to implementing student-led workshops and lessons more frequently when I return to the classroom! Meanwhile, some benefits I’ve been able to see just from my daughter’s experience include the following.
Opportunity #1: Helps take down “secret teacher business”
The idea of dismantling “secret teacher business” has been thrilling and fascinating to me ever since my introduction via Edna Sackson’s blog. Allowing students to teach gives them insight on the bigger picture of school–the curricula, the planning, the constraints–which in turn can bring greater ownership and sense of purpose.
Opportunity #2: Helps them develop empathy
Among all the positive aspects of teaching, my daughter also observed, “Some kids were not very respectful.” When students are given the opportunity to direct the classroom, they gain new insight on what an enormous task this can be. While this should not be the only reason we pursue student-led endeavors, it’s certainly a wonderful benefit when students learn to see their teachers as human beings, too.
Opportunity #3: Helps them process learning in a new way
My daughter taught a lesson on rounding using a variety of strategies. This was a math topic she loved, but approaching it from a teacher’s perspective required her to use speaking & listening skills, in addition to her mathematical processing skills.
Opportunity #4: Helps them learn to take ownership
Especially when students are offered the chance to teach about a variety of concepts (including offering “non-academic” workshops), they can share in the learning plans. I especially love all the descriptions of teachers who allow students to opt-in to sessions, resulting a group of learners who actually chose to be there and learn that content.
Opportunity #5: Confidence-building
I loved the student feedback in Mindy’s post linked above. Especially:
Student-led lessons are just another facet of cultivating student agency in our classrooms. What other benefits have you observed?
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featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto
One Reply to “5 Opportunities When We Let Them Teach”
Sounds like great learning all round, Mary.