The Student as the Teacher

One of the aspects of teaching I like the most, is that as I am teaching, I am also learning.  In 1990 when I first started teaching, graphing calculators were just starting to make their way into the classrooms.  I had been introduced to the graphing calculator at a teacher’s conference and I was excited about using them in the classroom, but after one weekend I couldn’t learn everything there is to know about this new technology.  When I finally got a class set of graphing calculators, the students seemed much more comfortable with this new technology than I was.  I decided, rather than pretend to know something I didn’t, I would have the students teach me.  I challenged the students to learn something about the calculator and then teach me.  Rather than one teacher and 25 students in my classroom, there were 25 teachers and one student.  Do you realize how much you can learn with so many teachers?  As the teacher, when a student asked me a question that I didn’t know the answer to, I got very comfortable with saying, “I don’t know, why don’t you learn about it and then you can teach me.”

A postscript to this story, is that a few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bert Waits. He was one of the people responsible for the invention of the graphing calculator.  Fortunately I still had my very first graphing calculator from 1990 and he signed it for me.  It is one of my most treasured possessions.


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