Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When Students Lead

It was a simple warm-up activity.  I put a verb on the board for the students to conjugate in a particular person and number.  Recently, I have been inviting students to go to the board to put up their answers as they felt led to do so rather than raising their hands and waiting on me to call on them to write their answers.  Today, however, that took a different twist.

After a few students had begun writing their answers, one young man just stayed at the front.  He sat in my swivel chair and gave occasional directions to his peers.  When we got ready to discuss the answers, I told him to stay where he was and lead us.  He invited a friend to join him, and together they led the class in a discussion of the forms.  Classmates offered corrections when necessary.

In his poem "Horatius," Thomas Babington Macaulay describes the Etruscan army marching on Rome and uses a phrase that I have often found applicable in teaching.  He says the army was "right glorious to behold."  This was the expression that came to mind as I watched these two young men show great leadership in guiding our class through the activity.

I was so impressed that I asked if any student would like to lead the discussion in the next class, and one of our young ladies stepped to the plate.  What impressed me this time was how she handled a difficult question from one of her classmates.  Rather than turn to me, she said, "Let me get my notebook."  Another student joined her in trying to answer their classmate's question.

Am I proud of these students?  You could say that!

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