Students Teach Teachers
Teacher Training or Staff Development are
always major concerns when new tools are introduced into education.
This has become increasingly important as more and more schools
incorporate technology, specifically computers, into their
curriculum. Large amounts of money are poured into staff
development, and we need to be sure that money is spent wisely and
that we get a good return on out investment.
The traditional method is to allocate certain funds to train
teachers in afternoon school workshops, weekend full day workshops,
or in vacation workshops. Teachers are paid to sit in a classroom
and spend endless hours working on prepared applications which are
very general in nature. I have done too many of these types of
workshops. The major problem is that they are not in real
situations. All examples are simulations. These workshops are
good for introductory and initial type of indoctrination, but
unfortunately these workshops are it. No follow up occurs and the
teacher is expected to immediately step into a classroom with
computers and teach.
Rather than continue in this wasteful practice, I have devised
a more efficient method of staff development. The money is used to
allow for teachers to spend time in a class during the day with
students in a real situation. Teachers work with experienced
teachers and learn on the job, a tried and true method borrowed
from the business world. Teachers also work with student interns.
Students have become the teacher's teacher.
Students learn about the comuters in class or in the computer
club which meets after school. Students become interns after they
have learned and then work in computer rooms as interns and as paid
interns. Teachers who teach in computer rooms can have two or
three interns to assist in the additional chores inherent in a
computer room. Teachers do not have to feel as if they need to be
totally computer literate to teach their subject in a computer room
or on the Internet. By using students as teachers and as interns,
much of the computer phobia that teachers express can be eliminated
by the presence of student interns.
The power of this method comes from the age old teacher-student
relationship. If a student is taught in a class to use the
computers the test is to see if that student can teach another.
All in all, we have found that we are getting a far better return
on our investment in staff development and in creating many more
efficient computer literate teachers than the traditional
Teachers find this method is more user friendly and they find
it more efficient because teachers can work on projects and can
prepare in a more timely manner. Instead of the blitz type
approach, teachers learn over time. Teachers and students arrange
for their training at mutually convenient times. Oftentimes we see
student and teacher working after school. Because teachers are
brought to computers more gently, we find teachers become computer
literate much faster. It is not a threatening environment like the
workshop. In addition, we have found teachers purchasing home
computers more quickly and becoming more willing to use the
computer rooms in their class work. They have come to view the
student-teacher relationship in a different way. They trust the
students to perform certain tasks in the classroom with computers.
They understand and don't feel threatened by the student's
knowledge of the computers. They realize they don't need to be the
authority about computers or of their academic discipline. They
have come to realize the power of teaching with computers.