OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Teach To Learn

Students teach younger students in the way they want to be taught.

Photo of Jean Kaneko
1 3

Written by

I am a.....

  • Organization

Tell us about your idea

Relationships and connections should be the foundation of any learning environment. Research has shown us over and over again, that learning can't happen until the student feels heard and understood. In distance learning, that's even more important and yet so challenging, especially, in the fall, when new students will enter the community. Teach to Learn is a community program where  High School students teach local middle school and elementary school students in a hybrid IRL and Distance Learning situation.  High School teachers will gain intimate knowledge of their student as they mentor them to teach distance learning classes for younger students or other high school students. 

Students will design their classes to address the learning goals of the learner. Mentoring the high school student will enable advisors to learn how the student learns, thinks, values, is anxious about and so much more. The high school student will get feedback as assessment to improve his/her classes from the learner, learner's teacher and the high school advisor. As long as the student incorporates the feedback and improves their deliver of the classes, they should all get A's. 

The high school students can teach these classes from home or from school. They can choose subjects and content that they are interested in. They will need to conduct research, write lesson plans, consider new apps to deliver the content and think creatively to keep their students engaged. They will develop empathy for their teachers, build a connection with their teachers and develop real world skills. 

This program can serve as professional development in real time. Similar to the Shadow a Student protocol that some teachers conduct to get to know their students better, the Teach to Learn program will help the teachers to build up their skills as facilitators of learning rather than  content deliverers. The program will also allow teachers to have more time observing and opportunity to engage in discourse with each other and administration as they support their students. 

This program will allow learning to happen in the most flexible manner this fall. Rather than contain plans to how many students can successfully social distance in a given space, now is an opportunity to create programming that incorporates  assessment that is useful in real life, skill development that can be tied to learning goals, real world opportunities to connect with the community and to make learning in High School, meaningful and in service of the students. It would also encourage educators to rethink their roles in this rapidly changing, world where students need skills to thrive in an unknown future. If we can't predict the future, we can best prepare young people to discover problems, think creatively, pivot rapidly and embrace challenges. 

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

It's time for educators to change their roles in education. Teaching content to regurgitate on a test or a hands on project disguised as progressive is only depriving young people of the opportunity to develop real world skills they will need to solve problems, we can't imagine as problems right now. Educators who insist on teaching a view of the world that they believe to be true, rather than empowering young people to examine research, ascertain truth and come to conclusions based on their individual values need to be left in the past.

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

I came to be an educator after working in the entertainment industry producing special effects, computer graphics and interactive technologies.  As I spent time in classrooms as a parent volunteer,  I notices that  many students were disenfranchised and made to think less of themselves. I created an organization that brought joyful, intentional, meaningful learning through STEAM and Maker-centered PBL. I have been a part of the development and  implementation at several new schools and I struggle to understand why it's so hard bring about change.

Currently, there are no state testing, no SAT's. There are inequitable access issues. So, why are teachers on the zoom stage, lecturing like they do on the stage in their classroom?  I wondered, if  teachers become teachers is to create a world in their image. Young people today have access to information whenever they want it and it allows them to determine what their learning experience should be.  We should honor that.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

I am in Los Angeles, CA after having grown up in New York. The community where I live and teach is a large urban setting where the differences in socio-economic class is very wide. We have students who are homeless sitting next to celebrity children. This creates unique challenges for educators.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Jean. Thanks for sharing this idea and your experiences here! I find the idea inspiring! To add to it, what if high school students taught classes to adults, or seniors? Might this connect students / schools with the greater community? In these times where seniors might be staying in and having less or no visitors might these connections have an impact beyond the lessons/skills shared?