Home >> Content >> Teach to Learn!

Search form

About The Blogger

Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
Back to Blog

Teach to Learn!


I want to share a technique that has really helped my students not only learn the required material but also practice public speaking skills and build confidence. It comes down to one word:


That's right. I believe teaching is one of the best ways to learn anything. Think about a subject you had to learn in order to teach it. You probably flipped through the teacher's guide for math or science~ trying to understand the material. But it wasn't until you actually had to teach the material to others that you truly understood it.

The same goes for our students. If you want them to really know a concept~ have them teach it to their classmates. I allow my students to teach in small~ five-minute segmentsduring the finalminutes of theday~ while we wait for the dismissal bell to ring. I write a concept on the board that we covered that day~ and I ask a student to teach it to the class.

Before that happens~ I have them watch me so they can model some techniques~ such as moving about the classroom~ how to recognize students~ how to keep them engaged~ etc.

After the student teachesa mini-lesson~ the class provides some positive feedback on what worked and what didn't. It is amazing to see the students develop in their teaching skills and ability to engage an audience.

I have also used this technique to see if a student really understands a lesson or if they are just going through the motionsby writing answers down that someone else provided at home or guessing on multiple choice questions. I'll say "Hey~ Johnny. Come up and teach the class how to add mixed numbers. You have five minutes." That might sound a little harsh~ but you will know within a minute if that child knows the material~ and they will make sure they know the material in the futurebecause they know they will be held accountable and there is no one to save them when they are called to perform.

Since you're having the students teach during downtimes and the class has already covered the material~ you are protected against parents or others protesting that a child is teaching their son or daughter. Also~ I package it as a public speaking/leadership program. If a student were giving a presentation or speech on Abraham Lincoln~ you wouldn't claim that he or she is doing you job~ would you?

I read one study that claimed you remember about 95 percent of what you teach to someone else. It backs up my belief that when you give or help someone else~ you receive much more in return. So think about how you canincorporate the Teach to Learn strategy in your classroom. Who knows~ maybe one of them could be inspired and turn out to be the next teacher they make a movie about :)