It has been established long ago that the highest form of learning is teaching. When one is put in the position to teach others, one learns the content and concepts at the highest applied level in order to successfully communicate it to others.
That being said, too many students still never have this opportunity to become Lead Learners - where they learn at the highest level by having the responsibility of teaching others. Here are five ways all educators can expand the opportunity for all students to learn at the highest level by all becoming teachers:
STUDENTS AS PROFESSIONAL PRESENTERS
For example, what if one’s class or program had a Media Coordinator responsible for coordinating the video work? Or a Social Media Coordinator handling the class Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Accounts? How about a Project Coordinator responsible for calendars, roles, timelines and deliverables? One could keep going with a Design Coordinator, Social Coordinator, Web Coordinator, YouTube Channel Coordinator, Community Coordinator and many others. How about Peer Coaches? If it’s good enough for adults, why not students? It’s not about titles for title sake (although students do respond to positions). It’s about students taking greater responsibility for the strategic roles in the classrooms. It’s about allowing students to bring their expertise and experience forward for the greater good, while also enhancing their skills, resumes and portfolios.
Another former school of mine created the Student Project Coordinator as a means to expand the role of students. Students who were advanced in a given curricular area, or showed tremendous enthusiasm and skill, could apply for this position that had students in the role of facilitator of learning. Instead of Teacher’s Aide, or gloried gopher, a Student Project Coordinator lead sessions, coached small groups, organized model lessons and demonstrations, and much more.
PORTFOLIO PRESENTATIONS / DEFENSE OF LEARNING
We need to create systems where students have to not only do regular presentations, but also practice reflective learning in regular semester or annual presentations. These not only get them to present their best work and learning, but also again teach them again and therefore continue to learn at a higher level. If it’s good enough for graduate students and doctoral candidates, it’s good enough for all students. Many classes, programs and schools have started to have their students do Final Reflective Oral Presentations - Defense of Learning - in order to capture this deeper learning experience. My former school - Minarets High School (www.minarets.us) - designed a year-end portfolio presentation students would do each year entitled the Personal Brand Equity. This culminating project not only required them to analyze and assess their learning and best work, but also do the same for them as a growing, learning and ever-improving young adult (skills focus). See some pics of these presentations here: http://bit.ly/PBEPresentationPics. Reflection, presenting and teaching will represent the highest form of learning these students can both experience and demonstrate.
STUDENTS AS EXPERTS
CULMINATING OR CAPSTONE PROJECTSwww.minarets.us), we created the Senior Legacy Experience. This was our version of a senior project. Students could choose an area that they were advanced in throughout their four years (AG, Arts, Athletics, AP, Academics, Media, IT, Core Subjects, etc.) and then pursuit something that would be impact the school and community. Check out the Minarets SLE Projects here: http://bit.ly/SLEProjects Unlike the portfolio, reflective quality of the Personal Brand Equity or Defense of Learning presentations, these are more again about student choice, expertise, passion and deeper learning. These are also often opportunities for students to see their learning and work have impact beyond themselves. These could be applied well beyond the senior experience. Maybe we do them at least as we move from elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to postsecondary, etc. There are many ways and reasons to design these capstone experiences. So, instead of another template, think about how we can create these for all of our students in our courses, programs and schools.
As usual, I’m not pretending that this list is complete or the best. However, I would like to challenge all of us to think of our students as teachers, experts and lifelong lead learners. They can all teach and therefore learn at highest, deepest levels.
(Images courtesy of Minarets High School, Foter, Pixabay and others)