In one of my previous posts I shared a survey from my students where I asked my students if they felt confident about sharing their ideas with others. Click here to view their responses.
Most students said that they were shy to contribute, from the fear of saying something incorrect
In te ao Māori, the concept of ako means both to teach and to learn. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. This powerful concept has been supported by educational research showing that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles in their classrooms, students’ achievement improves (Alton-Lee, 2003).
Making this principle as the core of my teaching, I decided to train a group of students as experts who would then be teaching fractions to another student. I wanted to build a caring and inclusive learning environment where each student’s contribution is valued. I wanted them to participate and build productive relationships where every student is empowered to learn with and from each other.
So what difference will it be, with me, not teaching and the peers teaching instead?
- Students will become comfortable asking questions of each other about their learning.
- They will be involved in more metacognitive discussions.
- They will become more confident about sharing their learning with others.
- Eventually, there will be a change in the classroom culture where they will become self regulated learners.
Did the lesson achieve it’s purpose?
This was a very different lesson to other lessons. It is based on the principle of Ako. As mentioned earlier, I wanted to empower every student by learning with and from each other. It also aligns with my inquiry where I want students to participate in learning discourses.
Considering that it was our first attempt, I think we have achieved some success. In the beginning, students were shy to ask questions of each other, but overall it helped in shaping a positive collaborative culture in class.
How did it help the tutors?
The idea of having a tutor students working with another peer worked well as the tutors got motivated to share their understanding with their peers. It took them a bit of a practice to go through each step but in the end they did themselves proud as they were able to teach the concept well. The confidence that the tutors gained through these lessons was tremendous because they felt valued.
How did it help the tutees?
On the other hand, the students who were not so sure about their learning felt more comfortable asking questions of their peers. I gave them sentence prompts to ask questions. ( These are provided in the detailed plan) Once the ice was broken, students became more comfortable with each other and eagerly helped one another with what they knew.
My next step is to keep encouraging students to work collegially and collaboratively in the pursuit to learn new things. For this to happen successfully, I will continue to emphasise the principle of Ako.