If you put a group of high school juniors and seniors in a room of elementary students, who learns more?
This is at the heart of a field I took today with my psychology students. My students are asking questions, observing behaviors, gauging interactions, and reviewing the work of the elementary students for the purpose of collecting data on developmental psychology. They are supposed to learn about what developmental changes are occurring from grade to grade. They are also discovering the differences between elementary today and what they experienced a decade ago.
The elementary students are learning about lots of content, but when my students walk in, they get a picture of what their future looks like. They get to see that learning is more than just what happens during their class, they learn that you can gain knowledge in many ways.
The teachers with me are learning things, too. We are noticing that students at elementary are learning a lot of things that are still impactful a decade later. So much foundation is laid at the elementary level that directly relates to student successes at the secondary level.
Here is what I have learned: more collaboration across grades is needed. One of the fourth grade teachers, Amanda Mann, has been asking for the last few years for us to come spend a full day. I think there is power in the connections we make- the elementary students are excited and engaged by the high schoolers, and there is a joy I do not normally see on the faces of my teenagers.
So, fellow educators, how can we increase these sorts of inter-grade interactions?
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.