GHS World Language course is inspiring future teachers

Students teaching students is an interesting concept that is being piloted in the Guilderland Central School District, to much acclaim. Through “Each One, Teach One,” fourth grade Pine Bush Elementary School students are learning Spanish — and their teachers are Guilderland High School students.

Learn about Each One, Teach One

New this year to GHS, Each One, Teach One (EOTO) is a course designed to inspire, recruit and begin training future teachers. After spending several weeks developing a foundation in educational philosophy and instructional strategies, GHS students put what they’ve learned into practice by teaching a World Language (Spanish, French, Italian or ASL) to fourth grade elementary students; currently PBES is the only GCSD elementary school participating in EOTO.

GHS EOTO students visit PBES regularly to conduct Spanish lessons and are met with enthusiasm, energy and lots of high-fives. When asked what they think of EOTO, the PBES students answered in unison, “I love it!” Trisha Mclean, a PBES teacher, explains further. “It’s their favorite day of the week. They ask ‘Are they coming? What time are they coming? Are they here yet?’ They just love it. And they’re learning a lot. They know a lot of Spanish already. The GHS students are obviously doing a nice job teaching them.”

Meghan Tidd, GHS Spanish and EOTO teacher, sees the dynamic between the two groups of students as a positive, added benefit of the program. “I believe that high school students are exemplifying the crucial role of being positive role models, while the younger students, filled with enthusiasm, genuinely idolize and look up to these mentors. In essence, it’s a mutually beneficial interaction, where everyone involved reaps valuable rewards.”

EOTO provides the opportunity for older GCSD students to interact and bond with younger students, something that may not frequently happen otherwise. “It’s nice for elementary students to have relationships with older students,” said Mrs. Mclean. “They can see that there’s a continuum; they’re on that path and eventually are going to be where the high school students are.”

Empowering tomorrow’s teachers

For high school students who may want to pursue a career in teaching, EOTO offers the chance to have hands-on, classroom experience. By experiencing what the day-to-day is like for a teacher, it allows them to decide if the teaching profession is a good fit. They’re able to gain the perspective needed to make an informed decision before they commit to pursuing a teaching degree in college.

“I don’t expect all of the students taking the class to be teachers,” said Ms. Tidd. “However many of the students have frequently made comments about their desire to teach.”

Student wearing a red sweater stands over a sitting student who is working“This program is my favorite class,” said Emily Ryan, a GHS junior enrolled in EOTO. “It’s really a fantastic way for someone who wants to be a teacher to understand the struggles and glory of helping others, to watch young minds figure something out, when they get that little spark in their eye, it’s a beautiful thing. This program confirmed that I want to teach.”

Stepping into this role not only gives Ms. Ryan a newfound respect for teachers, it also offers her a new viewpoint as a student. “It’s helped me see teachers in a different light — what it takes to develop a lesson plan. I appreciate so much more when I’m in the classroom, whether I’m teaching or learning. It’s helping me problem solve; I’ve had to learn how to navigate students’ different learning styles. I’ve also been able to see how I learn best as a student.”

According to the New York State United Teachers website, the teacher shortage is affecting New York districts in many subject areas including World Languages, which illustrates the need for programs like EOTO. “I think it’s an incredible program,” said Mrs. Mclean. “The teaching profession is really in need of young people who are excited and want to be in the profession. It’s nice to see former PBES students coming back and the current PBES students are really excited to learn.”

With the launch of EOTO, PBES fourth grade students are able to begin learning a World Language earlier than other GCSD students. “This program starts students learning a language at a much younger age. It helps expand their horizons when it comes to different cultures,” said Ms. Ryan. “It really opens up their minds to problem solving and how to navigate a lesson in a different way.”

Just a few months into the school year and EOTO is already garnering positive feedback from all involved in the program. “I want to inspire these students, the same way my teachers have inspired me,” said Ms. Ryan. “I’m so happy that I’m having this experience.”

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