A few weeks ago, I was inspired by this article about Pernille Ripp and how she changed the way she taught her students. Part of her book’s title includes the phrase – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students.
The idea floated in my head the next few days and I wondered how I could give my own classroom back to my kids. I thought, there are 53 of them – how on earth can I make them own the learning when there’s only one teacher?!
And that’s when perspective kicked in.
The beauty in shifting perspectives is that at the end of the day, you realize that there’s always a better side to everything. The burden of having more than 50 kids in a room also meant that I have more than 50 kids who can share their talents.
Every day, I tutor students of mine who are still beginning readers. We’ve been doing this for about five months and my students have progressed in different paces. There are success stories and there are those that continue to challenge me to try harder and teach better. Because of their varied skills, managing my small group became harder.
For about a week, a student of mine, JV, kept on coming to school early. He would always watch my remedial class from afar. I used to shoo him away all the time until one day, I decided to ask him if he wanted to join as a reading coach. He was so thrilled that he asked his mother if he could do it every day.
It’s been two weeks since JV started and the results are great. I feel quite humbled because I observed that his classmates seemed to enjoy learning with him more! Maybe it’s a myth that kids are more impatient or they just enjoy teaching as a learning experience.
This week, another student joined JV. Charlie, one of my former struggling readers, is now also a reading coach. JV and Charlie have been teaching 4 of their classmates and that gives me more time to teach my new student who just transferred in this November.
This quarter, one of the subjects I’ve had to teach is PE. To my dismay, part of PE this quarter is basketball! I’m not a very athletic person but I figured it was worth a shot trying to learn the basics for my students.
One day, while carrying my basketball to class, one of my former students was eagerly shouting, “Ma’am, pahiram ng bola!” (Ma’am, may I borrow your ball?) Suddenly, I thought, If I have reading coaches, why can’t I have basketball coaches?
A few days after, three of my former students joined my PE class to help me teach basketball. They were much better teachers than me and my students enjoyed having big brothers around. I never had to run after a ball when it went out of bounds and my coaches cleaned up the gym for me after class!
STUDENT TEACHERS ARE STUDENT LEADERS
“Ang galing na niya magbasa, ‘Cher!” (He’s reading much better now, Teacher!)
JV was so excited with his classmate’s progress when we played a reading game during remedial class. I saw the pride in his eyes when he told me that his classmate was ready to play the game.
Last Monday, some of my students wrote thank-you notes to their big brothers for teaching them how to play basketball. On the other end, more of my former students heard about what happened during PE class and are asking me how they can become coaches as well.
Angel, one of my basketball coaches, approached me a few days ago and said, “Ma’m, kailan ulit ako magtuturo? Ang saya pala!” (Ma’am, when will I teach again? It’s fun!”) This meant a lot to me since he was one of my students who had the tendency to always push against his classmates last year.
What I’ve learned from my student coaches is that I have to trust my students more. Not all the learning has to come from me. At the same time, I get to share the joys of teaching with them. This experience has taught me what it really means to learn with my students and to give them the classroom back.