Listen up everyone! I know a way to make schools better without spending zillions of dollars.
It’s called: MODEL STUDENTS. Veteran teachers will sit in and participate in one class led by another teacher… as a student. Yes, we the adults, will be model students. We grown-ups will be sitting in student desks, raising our hands, working in teams, doing homework. We’ve been role models for years as teachers, but students don’t necessarily see a direct application between our behavior as authority figure pedagogues and their own choices. Now we will be one of them…. for a fraction of the workday.
BENEFITS OF MODEL STUDENTS
1. Students see positive habits/attitudes/ behaviors personified on a daily basis. Students can directly absorb these observations into their own behavior.
2. The teacher in the role of the model-student gets to experience life from a student’s persepective— always an eye-opening experience. When I— all too rarely—shadow students, it inevitably triggers epiphanies on how I can tailor my lesson plans to increase engagement and learning.
3. The teacher who has an adult sitting in pretending to be a student has greater accountability to deliver quality instruction. You don’t want to bring your B-game in front of your colleague.
4. The model student and the teacher will engage in an ongoing dialogue outside of class on their perspectives on the class. They are teammates with different lenses on the same class, and they can work together to improve the quality of the educational experience in ways that a lone teacher cannot.
5. The program will foster a greater sense of community among the adults in the school, since they are taking each other’s classes. There will be more and closer examinations/discussions about craft and best practices. This type of reflective professional environment is crucial for a healthy school. Ronald Barth wrote: “The nature of relationships among the adults within a school has a greater influence on the character and quality of that school and on student accomplishment than anything else.”
6. MODEL STUDENTS is a scaleable program that can start small— as small as one teacher sitting in on one class.
This idea doesn’t solve the root issues of education inequality and crushing poverty. But it could go a long way in schools toward building community, improving teacher quality, strengthening character education, and enhancing accountability.
I have no ten-year studies or double-blind peer reviewed experiments to back this up. But I don’t think I need them. I think this is an idea that, with just a little latitude on scheduling, could make a real difference. What do you think of my hare-brained scheme?