When the Student is the Teacher

A teacher isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.
– Paulo Coelho

Oh my, what a surprising day. Today after lunch, it was taking my class longer than it should have to settle down, which, if you are a regular reader of this blog, know is not uncommon.  As soon as I quieted one group, another popped up talking or laughing. Kind of like Whack a Mole.

After a few minutes of this, Ivan, the one with a potty mouth who is smart and always has something to say, raised his hand and very seriously asked if he could be the teacher. Not believing that he really meant it, I said that sounded fine (it couldn’t be much worse, so why not?), and we traded spots. I sat in his seat and he stood in front, behind the podium. He got kids back on track, more or less, and directed them to what we had been doing before lunch. The students were so surprised by the turn of events, they quieted down and paid attention.

I occasionally asked leading questions as I did the assignment at ‘my’ desk. When a student misbehaved or was off task he very seriously took away participation points. He also gave points when justified. When a student needed help he went to their side and helped them, as much as he was able. When I took a photo of him with my phone, he calmly came and took it away from me, quietly telling me I could have it back at the end of the period. I was surprised by my response to this, as without even thinking, I brushed my hair back with the wrong finger. Yeah, that one.

While we worked, he stood at the document camera and did his own work, turning the camera away so everyone couldn’t just copy him. When he didn’t know the answer to a question he looked my way for support after he’d tried to answer it himself. There was a curious sense of calm and good humor the entire time, and it lasted all period, until the last two minutes when he told us to “Pack up!”

Sometimes the teacher needs to be the student and vice versa, just to see things through different eyes. I think all of us learned a little something new today. It was so cool!


6 thoughts on “When the Student is the Teacher

  1. dkzody says:

    I’ve always heard that you learn better if you teach the subject. So, there you go. That young man learned better. When I was in high school, we had one day a year where the students, usually seniors, got to take over classes. It was so much fun.

  2. lynnjake says:

    It’s a good thing to do once in a while, although I seldom have encountered a student who is nervy enough to do it and who the rest of the class will actually listen to!

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