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Students Become Teachers

Why not letting students to ask and answer their own questions regarding what is relevant to them? We will sure learn a lot from them.

Photo of Jose Jimenez
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Written by

I am a.....

  • Project Manager, Innovation Strategy Officer

Tell us about your idea

Nowadays students, due to ease of information access, sometimes are far beyond teachers and parents. This has caused a lot of stress and frustration among them. Why not letting the kids to enhance the abilities they have to ask and answer their own questions based on their hypothesis regarding what is relevant to them, and give them the chance to teach us. Teachers and parents may become now learners but also, by experience and empathy, being able to give feedback.

As adults we have to step aside on thinking we have all the answers to questions kids may ask. Actually they are on a quest to find solutions, to figure out what they expect their life to be, and full of resources to do that.

Teachers and parents should be asking themselves, what are we supposed to do with  our experience whenever we are not prepared on technology as we should be to perform better in this new role as online/remote teachers? We know kids have the “chip” on technology and are eager to learn from it. Now, we have a great opportunity to start a new paradigm, the one where kids lack of paradigms may break ours. It is important to have the answers to the questions we have, but is even more relevant to find the questions we haven’t asked ourselves yet. They are just in that path. Don’t you think?

By challenging project based learning assignments delivered through thoughtful starting questions we can get the most of everybody:

  • We can use learning platforms to start the research and open discussions of the project/topic.

  • Students/Parents/Teachers will be working together and learning one another. Mainly from students. They have to be the shining part, teachers and parents should be the ones behind to give support in sinergy. 

  • Students will participate, learn and teach from collaboration among class partners. We can extend this to international participation with other institutions in other countries to bring cultural and behavioral insights, enhancing values and socioemotional development. But also giving the importance to learn from personal backgrounds in a sense of collaboration, openness and empathy.

  • This kind of projects develop human skills and competencies such as, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, innovation and more that today and tomorrow will be the key ingredient for a brighter future.

  • Parents/Teachers play as football coaches, the are at the boundary lines assessing and instructing with passion but the kids are the ones on the field figuring out how to score based on that suggestions. 

I presume this way is a balanced approach to get the most and the best from everyone. Now is time to learn from students. 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Thinking that only teachers are responsible of knowing everything, they know something, but it is better if we shift their responsibility to one where they become mentors more than lecturers, also human skills of teachers will be improved. The mindset of a mentor is from an empathetic standpoint to find ways to guide the students and parents to overcome challenges, and they also may have the leadership when talking about how to improve relationships among parents and students to get the best results from students capabilities. We have to encourage parent-student collaboration. We will benefit from it. A supporting parent will always be a catalyst to have resilient generations.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

As a project manager at big scale infrastructure projects I have observed how some colleagues, professionals and specialists with great domain on their discipline, get stuck and struggle on solving project problems due to a traditional education system and a strong attachment to paradigms. I know that a different type of education & skill development is needed for the world  to be improved, act with resilience, be agile and  be committed to one another. 

I am also responsible for the Resilience Strategic Initiatives for a private school (kinder and primary) in Mexico City. I have seen the struggles that parents have on this pandemic to perform as teachers, and teachers struggling on getting "back to school" to learn new skills. Fortunately, both sides have understood the importance of their collaboration, working together and communicating (parents-teachers) so students get the best from this with confidence.

What region are you located in?

  • Latin America and the Caribbean

Where are you located?

Mexico City


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rachel Siegel

So grateful for your submission, Jose Jimenez - much of what you share resonates with me as an educator and parent, particularly the concept of "students as teachers" and "parents/teachers as coaches." Yes! With teachers in a new type of role, what "training" might they need in order to practice and learn effective coaching skills? Is there a framework for asking good questions that will guide students on their learning journey?

There are some synergies between your submission and other inspirational ideas on this platform - you may wish to connect with Noleen Kuhn and PROJECT BASED LEARNING CONCEPT as well as Andrea Stadler 's iWonder idea!

Photo of Jose Jimenez

Thanks Rachel for your comments. I think teachers and parents are realizing how important human skills are to be developed. We have the chance to guide students on that. That, I think, is some of the trainings teachers have to get. But also they have to understand that sometimes is important to get out of the comfort zone, well, that is what I have seen with some teachers at school. Nevertheless, with a good leadership and encouragement it is possible to overcome the challenges.Asking good questions, comes from really thinking about the students based on a clear objective on the subjects teachers are trying to consolidate. Thanks for the recommendations of Noleen Kuhn  PROJECT BASED LEARNING CONCEPT   and Andrea Stadler  iWonder ideas. They are great. Now is time to gather ideas and get the most of all of them.

Photo of Andrea Stadler

Jose, I do agree on your idea. We need to help them find questions, problems to solve, and it's ok that we as teachers do not know the answers. We can learn with them and just facilitate the process. I have followed a model like this and here are my findings:

1. I have realized as I have tried this model is that a student does not know what they do not know. Hence the need for a platform where they can explore different interests and learn to ask questions about what they explore. For example I teach "Service Learning" and I give them a glimpse of the UN goals and problems like Fast Fashion, Meat Consumption, Fair Trade, etc. and from there you can see their heads explode with questions which is great, but from there however, we face another problem.

2. While we consider our students "tech Savvy" they are really more passive consumers of social media and do not really understand how to find reliable sources amongst all the noise on the web. This is a crucial point that ISTE has always made in their standards. It's like missing the empathy part in Design Thinking. Not possible. Partnering up as you suggest would allow the student to look at the problem from a variety of perspectives and when my students talk to experts, their interest just spikes through the roof.

3. Once they have the real facts of the problems, they need to really understand what is the REAL problem. Is it really that we need to tell governments to stop polluting, or is that we need to raise awareness as to how our current lifestyle is part of the polluting cycle. Once the students see how they are part of the problem, then they understand how to make a sustainable solution that will actually create an impact. However, we need teachers/facilitators, to be trained as well, as we adults are also very good and jumping to solutions without really asking the deep why questions and using tools to get us to the heart of the problem- hence the reason why we are still part of the problem...

4. Finally, once we know the heart of the problem, it's amazing how many students jump to "let's make a poster" solution. It shocks me every time how hard it is for them to think outside the poster. To this solution I usually respond "when was the last time you read a poster? And if you had, what impact did it have on you" to which they realize the need for a better solution.

I agree on your suggestions and wish more teachers were trained to be able to facititate learning and model "lifelong learning" by learning with the student.