Engaging Youth as Educators

While peer tutoring, cross-age tutoring,
and student-driven conversations are increasingly popular in schools, it is rare for
adults to actually turn classroom control over to students, or to
share that control equally with students. 

I have learned that lessons that are co-taught with young people can be powerfully engaging for their peers, younger students, and adults. Adults can examine their own feelings about engaging youth as educators with the
following simple activity.
  1. Using a normal sheet of paper, write a large
    upper-case “T” that covers the entire page. On the left side, brainstorm all of
    the advantages you can think of to engaging students as classroom teachers. On
    the right, list all of the problems you envision. 
  2. Then, use the first list to
    answer questions inherent in the second: If the left side listed “Student
    energy” as a plus, and the right side included “Student disregard for peer
    teachers” as a challenge, brainstorm how student energy can answer the
    challenge.
  3. Do that for each issue on the right, and then begin planning how to
    engage youth as educators.
Engaging youth as educators can be a radical departure from the rigid norms of learning and teaching that many people, including adults and students, are accustomed to. Therefore, it is vital for adults to examine their own perceptions about this engaging youth as partners in teaching before attempting to facilitate it with students. Doing this activity is the first step to engaging youth as educators. Next step? ACTION!

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