After a little over a decade of teaching middle school , I finally have students who are just graduating from college. Others are succeeding very well in high school. Something I’ve learned in running a special program (our school’s student leadership program) and by piling up the years is that older students–alumni–can play a vital role with current students. I can think of a few examples from my experiences:
1. When I take students to Washington,
D.C. and other east coast cities (we’re in L.A.), I take older kids as junior chaperones. This is a win-win scenario in that the older kids get to put their leadership skills to work, and the younger kids have role models.
2. Alumni can motivate the current crop of kids. For similar reasons to the trip, I like to have alumni come and speak at assemblies about the importance of education, taking our school seriously, what to expect in later grades, and much more. It’s one thing for “adults” to drill these things into the heads of the current generation (e.g. go to college, study, take your classes seriously) but when it comes from the mouth of younger adults, it simply sounds different. It comes off different.
3. Community service. Many high schools are requiring community service, or service-learning. For middle and elementary school teachers, this couldn’t come at a better time. With budget crises engulfing education, two birds can be killed with one stone: cross-age peer tutoring. This can be done after-school, on weekends, or if you’re on a tear-round calendar during track rotations. The older students get their service hours, feel good about it, and the younger kids get the extra help they need. No cost! And, to generic cialis boot, some of the older kids might want to even (gulp) become teachers.
Just the sight of older kids coming back to visit sends a message to the kids of the class they walk-in on: they must like me or they wouldn’t come back. They must have learned something valuable, or why else would they be coming back? Plus, it’s nice to know I’ve made a difference. Some days, that’s what gets me through the day itself.
Mr. Franklin has been teaching for the Los Angeles Unified School District for eleven years. He has won District and County Teacher of the Year awards, as well as the prestigious Bank of America Community Hero award. Before teaching, he spent five years at Learning Forum, which runs summer camps world-wide that increase student academic potential.
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