Who’s Teaching Who?

I’ve been noticing some interesting happenings around my school this year. The long-standing relationship between teachers and


students is starting to change. In a slow way and in small amounts it seems as though there is starting to form a notion that the teacher is not the only source of wisdom, knowledge and information around here. As I walk through the school observing teaching and learning it is not uncommon to see student as teacher and teacher as learner. I believe this is because as teachers risk new approaches they look to these digital natives who have a whole different level of comfort with 21st century learning. Here are a few examples of what I’ve witnessed:

  1. Our grade 2 students were learning about a cool new App called Phototangler. I watched as the teacher started explaining how to use it, step by step. Within seconds students were getting ahead of the teacher so she changed gears and just let them play. They soon started showing her parts of the App that she had not figured out herself.
  2. One class was learning about Twitter. The teacher had recently set up a Twitter account herself and was using the school library account @stmarylibrary to show the students how to connect with others. One particular student was very knowledgeable about Twitter and the teacher allowed her to control the smart board and show the class how it worked. The student explained all about follows, hashtags, and chats and in the end the teacher asked even more questions than the students.
  3. A couple of weeks ago I sent the link to our grade 6 blogs out to my PLN to assist the students in receiving some quality comments. I’ve been very impressed with their posts and wanted to share them with others. Low and behold, a college professor from New York  @SocialAcademic responded to my Tweet, suggesting that perhaps our students could motivate hers to start blogging. In the following days many of her students submitted wonderful comments on our grade 6 blogs. Many of them, we hope, will start blogging as well. 11 year olds showing college students how it’s done. Wow!
  4. Aren from grade 6 has become our resident iPad expert. He knows and understands settings and configurations better than any adult on staff. Whenever we are experiencing a glitch with the iPads he either already knows how to fix it or he figures it out. Of course, our division techie is a bit leery about this. lol       

These digital natives that come to us every day are simply not wired the way we were as students.  We didn’t do much problem solving, decision-making, or leading in our own learning.  Those skills weren’t seen as important because when we left school and went to work most of us expected to be told what to do.  This is no longer the case. In today’s world there is more scope for autonomy and decision-making and our students are naturally put together this way.  We need to be sharing learning with our students, not just delivering it to them. I am happy to see that things appear to be moving in this direction.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Who’s Teaching Who?

  1. This is very exciting to begin seeing happen in your classrooms Greg. Although students leading learning is nothing new, technology really does allow us to close that gap as educators. I actually referenced your grade six students having blog accounts in a recent administration interview, citing it as an effective means to enable students to own and reflect on their own learning with a larger global audience. Something for us all to strive for when attempting to actively engage our learners. Thanks as always for sharing!


  2. Thank you for this blog post, it was a very interesting read for me. As a pre-service teacher, I’ve recently discovered first hand how students today are wired for technology in a way that I’m simply not. I’m only 24 years old, but the SMART board and SMART technology in general has been a huge learning experience. My students know more than I do about it. While some might find this dynamic intimidating, I find it both refreshing and comforting. Additionally, I feel that it has helped me build a relationship with some of my students; in acknowledging my own shortfalls (and sometimes complete failures regarding technology), I not only make it okay for them to have shortfalls too, but it also gives them an opportunity to display their knowledge about technology as they’re teaching it to me. Keeping up with technology in education is something I will continue to struggle with yet strive for; good thing I’ll have a classroom full of living resources to help me out!


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