The wonder of peer-teaching

From Dr. Olenka Bilash in her article Student Motivation and Investment in the Language Classroom:

If you are passionate about your subject area and show enthusiasm, this can influence student motivation. Being passionate about your subject area also means you are more likely to invest your own time and perhaps even your own money in creating a milieu that makes it interesting and exciting for the students. This means you may have more posters, intriguing objects, pictures or postcards of your own travels, personal photo albums from trips, and allow your students to see all of these things.

While I agree with Dr. Bilash, I am a bit worried that we are keeping the focus on the teacher here. By focusing on your trips, your experiences, and your knowledge, it puts the instructor as the dispenser of knowledge and the most important person in the room. I am sure that is not what Dr. Bilash is thinking here and I would think that she would agree when I say that there is a lot we can learn from our students and they can help teach one another.

Today, my class was working on a project in small groups and one student was having problems with something and instead of turning to me, he asked another student in a different group to help him. He had remembered that this student had experience in this area and decided to use him as his ‘teacher’ instead of me. I just sat back, listened, and smiled as this one student carefully explained to his classmate what to do. Do you think that the student who was asked felt good about being able to help someone? I am certain of it. I just wish that happened more often.

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