This summer, I read a book called Empower, by A.J. Juiliani. Thoughts flew through my head each night as I sat down to read chapter after chapter. As I read, I reflected upon my own time in the classroom. Did I empower my students? What could I have done better?
While reading Empower, I thought of one particular activity that I always did before midterm and final exams. I let the students take charge of the class and guide their peers through review activities. This was a group activity and I assigned each group a chapter or unit to review with their classmates. They prepared a lesson and activity to teach to the class. Some kids loved this activity and some kids hated it.
One student, Dylan, thrived in this environment. He loved it so much during our midterm review, that he volunteered to do this more before unit tests. Generally, I didn’t let my students “teach” a review prior to a unit test, but Dylan really wanted to. So, I took a step back and let him go for it. I was amazed with the clarity in which Dylan presented the material to his classmates. He took great pride in sharing what he knew and asking questions to the class. As a teacher, I could see what Dylan knew and didn’t know before a test. In hindsight, I should have done this activity more often.
Jump forward to today.
I am out of the classroom; Dylan is a teacher; I have two school-aged children. Last Thursday, my younger son (Zach), came home and told me that I had to look on Twitter to see what he did that day. This is what I saw:
That’s my son! He was a “teacher” and so proud of it! Mrs. Malloy, his teacher told me, “I don’t do it often, and I always let the kiddos say no thank you, but gosh, he was so empowered, and to me -if he can teach it -he’s got it mastered.”
Empowered. Isn’t that what we want for all of our students?