“Teaching depends on what other people (as in the students) think,” says Deborah Ball, dean of the school of education at the University of Michigan, “not what you (as the teacher) think.”
Team peer teaching in the professional communication module I teach is coming to a close for this semester. Over the course of the past six weeks teams of students have taught their classmates 30-minutes lessons on performing effectively at job interviews, creating good resumes and application letters, using wikis and other collaborative workspaces, writing effective business correspondences, and designing effective survey questionnaires. These are all content topics that the "student teachers" had to learn themselves (with a list of websites at their disposal) then teach.
As I've mentioned, the most amazing thing for me about the peer teaching is that for many students, it's the first time they have stood in front of a class. It's also the first time they have created a lesson plan, managed a classroom, delivered a content-based lecture, and directed teaching/learning activities. Amazingly, they have done so while not receiving any instruction on teaching. They've had to learn and teach simply by doing.
What then makes this possible, or plausible? A simple mix, really, of three attributes: Intellect. Courage. Heart. Add to that a good portion of hard work, e voila!
In the lessons I've attended, I've seen a good number of natural-born future teachers, and quite a few peer teachers that are diamonds in the rough.
What makes teaching so special? And what might contribute to a person becoming an effective teacher? See the article "Building a Better Teacher" by Elizabeth Green in the New York Times for an overview.
I'd like to hear your reactions, in a couple paragraphs or less, to the experience you had teaching (and learning as a peer teacher and a peer student) this term.