For a long while I have felt that students should play a greater role in determining the classroom culture and environment as well as determining the next steps in their learning. Last week I was able to use a grade 4 student as an expert. They were able to genuinely help others and were enormously proud to be asked to help.
The student told me about how he had been learning Scratch at home with his father and asked if we could learn it at school. We were about to begin a VoiceThread project so I told him that as soon as we were done, he could teach the class Scratch. He went straight to work developing new projects and excitedly shared them with me without my asking for them. I let him know which day we would start and developed a vague plan – he could show his work and explain how to create it. I would provide the students with a brief handout of instructions and then the class could dig in to Scratch and muck about.
My student teacher positively beamed throughout the lesson. He was so proud to be the expert in the room! I did have to step in and help him manage the questions his peers had because they were so engaged and all wanted immediate help with their first projects! That seemed fair given that I had 18 years of teaching experience and he had about 18 minutes… He did what he could to help as many students as possible as quickly as possible. He learned that he was an expert and he learned a bit about the role of a teacher. His peers also learned that he was an expert at something rather challenging and a bit about Scratch.