A New Twist on Student of the Week

Give the child in the spotlight a chance to teach the class something he/she is passionate about.

By Mollie Moore

Student teaching a lesson

We have all heard of, experienced, or implemented the student of the week concept at some point. It’s a wonderful concept, and is generally very well received in elementary, and especially lower-elementary classrooms.

One child—or two if there are more students than weeks—gets his/her picture on the wall for the week. That child brings in show and tell items to share one day. The rest of the class writes a kind note to the student of the week. He/she may be the line leader for the week or carry the attendance folder to the office. Exactly how it is played out is different in every classroom, but the idea is the same: give each child a time to shine, a chance to feel special, an excuse to be celebrated.

Turning the Student into the Teacher

What if, in addition to this, we made it about each person having an opportunity to play the teacher? The goal would be to give pupils a challenge, but one in which they would hopefully thrive. And secondly, this change in the typical model would be intended to instill confidence in each individual in the fact that everybody has something to offer. It would look like this:

  • The student of the week would choose (and have you approve) a skill, trade, hobby, interest or talent that he/she would like to “teach” to the class
  • The student of the week would prepare (with the help of a parent, guardian, or teacher if needed) a brief lesson to teach the class about the chosen topic, and allow them all a chance to “try it out”

This may require some imagination, creativity, props, or all of the above, but each student of the week would be encouraged to engage the class in participating in the skill or interest.

For instance, an avid skier may instruct the class in the things he/she knows about skiing, share some photos or video of skiers, and then have everyone pretend to ski around the classroom with the technique they had seen. Or someone interested in animals may provide some information about and photos of his/her favorite animals, share a personal anecdote about how his/her family pet came to be a part of the family, and then have everyone form groups in the corners of the room according to which of four animals is their favorite.

This minor twist on student of the week would challenge young children to teach others something that has at some point been taught to them. Additionally, it would serve to help every child in the classroom recognize the unique talents and interests of their classmates, and to learn about and value things that they may otherwise have not had exposure to or experience with.

Try it!