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TURN and TALK – Teaching the Teacher

by Kyle Weber

To teach is to learn twice.

                     -Joseph Joubert


These words become increasingly clear every time I step into the classroom, but never from the same perspective.  When I first started teaching, my own understanding of the core mathematics content grew in part because I had to readily explain the material to many different kinds of learners and learning styles.  My skills in mathematics grew each time I created a unique representation to aide in the development of a student.  Later, as my pedagogy grew, I understood that students make excellent teachers, and when afforded the opportunity to explain a procedure or idea to a peer, they will always do so with gusto, and 9 times out of 10 both students will have gained from the experience.  Students make excellent instructors.

Just this past week at Gateway Middle (SLPS), a group of students held a teach the teacher chess day.  A small group of the willing teachers agreed to give up their lunch period to sit down with our chess players and have a quick chess lesson.  Not knowing what to expect, the teachers sat down with the students and awaited their lesson.  One idea is clear, when given the opportunity to share, a student will accomplish wonderful things.  Teachers came back exclaiming, “That was just the best thing I have ever experienced.”  Even teachers that thought they knew the game came back defeated, taking in a very practical lesson in humility.  After the lessons were done, a stream of emails arrived asking for another chance, and teachers queuing up for the opportunity to have a chess lesson with one of the Gateway Middle students.

Being an educator allows for a unique opportunity that we cannot overlook.  Whether it flows through chess, math, writing, sports, or any other experience, we as teachers need to afford more and more chances for students to share what they know and understand.  As a teacher, I have the privilege to learn from my kids.  If I want to continue to grow as an educator, I need to make sure my students have the forum to speak, and I make the time to listen.