Do you share the platform of instruction with your students? How comfortable are you in sharing this platform? What are your prohibitions in doing so? Are you afraid that they will perform this task better than you? I am happy if they do then that is a really good indicator that they ‘got it.’

I’ll like to share one of the many examples in which I share the platform with my students.

This past Tuesday my students did a very short quiz (formative assessment) on deriving the ideal gas constant (R = 0.082057 L.atm K−1 mol−1), formula is PV = nRT. Since this is not a blog about the ideal gas constant, I will not go into details on what it is. We discussed this concept in class and the students were supposed to have read on it. However, many of the students were not able to derive the constant. I asked a student (William), to explain the ideal gas constant to the class. Keep in mind that I am not singling out William to be the ‘brainiac’ in the class. I am pleased to say that all of my students who have remained in the class can ‘do’ chemistry. William went up to the board and wrote the derivation of the ideal gas constant. His delivery of the content was in my opinion was that of a ‘master’ level. His classmates were very pleased and appreciative of his teaching style. Some commented, “that was great, thanks!” To which I told William that he should consider a future in teaching. Of course, he is bent on entering the medical field and teaching may not be of an interest to him. Nevertheless, he like many of his classmates is ‘good’ at it.

As the old adage by the French writer Joseph Joubert goes, “To Teach is to Learn Twice.”


  1. Great post Maria! that was one of the first principles I’d learned from my deputy superintendent when I told them I’d done this exercise with middle schoolers: after learning about how commercials used persuasive techniques to sell products we told them that for homework the students that did the best write-up of how they would teach that concept to their principals would get to do it at a meeting we were conducting to discuss our new after school media literacy program. Instead of talking about it we’d let the kids demo their very first lesson.

    Needless to say the kids worked very hard at the ‘homework’ that night and we picked half of them to teach at the meeting. We did the very same active lesson with having the principals picking techniques and products to sell out of a bag and after a discussion on how to pull it all together the principals not only got to see what we were doing with their kids but told their students how much they’d learned from them by selling the product and discussing the techniques. They were so impressed that these were their students and no one got a boring meeting lecturing them on how we were teaching their kids. They experienced the method themselves from the recipients of this program. When this is done on the first few days or weeks students are not only empowered but get to see one another as resources; so having them do and explain concepts to one another is not only student-centered but motivational for future learning in that classroom when things like that get flipped.

    I have a question… As you say he displayed mastery; did you by any chance learn something from his delivery about delivery that could also be called out and noted or is it exactly as you’d have done? It’s often hard for us as teachers to be frank about this aspect but it puts you and the experience for the students at equivalent footing…all are learners in this capacity!

    1. Hello Allyson,

      What a wonderful and real world activity your students were engaged in. That’s teaching and learning at its best. As for my student, his delivery was similar in some sense yet different from mine. He exhibited confidence because he knew the topic very well. His voice was projected clear and he had a good command of the class. A couple of the students asked him clarify questions, which he answered succinctly and clearly. I would say at that moment that he was my equal.


  2. Thanks for sharing, Maria and Alyson! Alyson, your point about them seeing each other as resources is key. These types of activities also put the work and responsibility onto the students. I believe students should always be doing more work than the instructor.

  3. Right you are Rachel. You may be interested in a book written by Robyn Jackson. It’s called, ‘Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching.’

  4. Maria, I’m on it to locate that book- thanks to both of you for your kind words. Learning about the needs of Middle Schoolers came from a post-bacc class years ago and it provided a great foundation for how we can reach most ages with that technique. Thanks too for the resources and your posts…

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