Empathy, collaboration, resilience, communication skills and argumentation. These skills, so important to today’s education and to the job market, require practice to develop. What if, in addition to working on them, you could find a way to help students better understand the content of your classes? Letting them learn by teaching is one of these ways.
Understand the benefits of this practice and how to help your students to be ready to teach.
Elizabeth Aguila, a high school teacher at the Academy of Education in the United States, says, in an article published on the Edutopia Education Portal, that the experience of turning students into educators has been very beneficial for her classes.
One of herr strategies is to use teaching as a way to fill knowledge gaps, as the ‘new teachers’ face the challenge of explaining previous grade’s content and answering questions from younger students. And the improvements are visible. “They show more reading skills after revising and teaching the vowel rules to children, for example,” she says.
This benefit is especially noticeable among students with some kind of disability, language barrier or facing financial difficulties (without access to technology or all learning materials), as the opportunity to teach becomes a chance to get in touch with all content again, working on any questions they have left. With the challenge of teaching robotics to younger students, many of Elizabeth’s students had the opportunity to be in touch with this technology for the first time , since it was not part of the curriculum when they were younger.
Reflecting about her own classroom experience, the teacher wrote about five ways to help students learn by teaching. Check them out!
The first step in guiding students, as soon as they assume the educator role, is to map the areas of knowledge or topics in which they have the most difficulty. From there you can encourage him to teach something about that subject, a content from previous grades. This review exercise alone will help him better understand the content he’s seeing in class right now. In addition, the practice of making questions to younger colleagues may end up resolving some doubts that has never been answered.
The second step is an exercise for the teachers themselves. Before you start the activity, meet with your peers and talk about each student’s skills and weaknesses. That way you can think of the perfect match, where the two students can learn together and mutually teach each other during practice, regardless of age difference.
Giving objective directions is very important to make students feel safer. No big planning is necessary, but presenting students with a plan with the expectations and tasks that must be accomplished during the activity can contribute to the success of the practice. You can even discuss previously how they plan to teach each topic, what resources they will have available, and so on. The level of autonomy during exercise mainly depends on the maturity of your students and the time available.
Be around pairs or groups throughout the activity, both to correct any information and to give the young educators more confidence. Your role is to be a mentor, facilitating the ‘teaching model’ and the chosen format. Remember, however, that they will also learn from mistakes, so interventions should only be done when needed.
After the activity, reflecting on what was done is essential to consolidate knowledge. Ask about difficulties faced, which questions led to new questions, which subjects students felt safer about. Take the opportunity to know how they did in the ‘relationship’ aspect.
A good tip is to ask them to write down their thoughts and impressions, followed by a conversation, according to Professor Elizabeth. “This is the most critical step in this learning process,” he says.
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