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St. Mary’s middle school students get a lesson in education

By Jesse Yeatman | The Enterprise,

You’re never too young to learn to teach.

That was one lesson students in Margaret Brent Middle School’s Future Educators Association learned recently. They discovered that the best way to demonstrate a lesson is through its real-world effects.

The student club, which meets during a morning start-up period, has helped St. Mary’s County middle-schoolers interested in teaching learn useful skills and job duties, including planning lessons and helping to organize test materials.

But standing in front of a roomful of children and teaching them new information excites the group the most, members said. The Margaret Brent students traveled to nearby Dynard Elementary School in Chaptico to teach third-graders, using skills the middle-school students picked up from the club.

“I think they learned something,” Tristan Baxter said of his experience teaching real-world uses of multiplication with the Dynard class. “We got to teach and set up lessons and work on computers.”

He said teaching the elementary school students was easier than standing in front of his peers to present a project in class.

Is he planning to become a teacher? “It’s a possibility,” Tristan said.

Science teacher Hannah Mossman-Haas said the enrichment group offers about two dozen students a chance to see what it’s like to be a teacher.

“I wanted to inspire them as educators,” she said.

Mossman-Haas, who took over leading the club this year, has taught for 27 years and draws on her experience.

She said the club’s projects incorporate elements of the student service learning model, including planning, preparing, implementation and reflection. She also reminds the middle-school students to always keep in mind their audience, especially the ages.

“It’s fun to teach,” said Brenna Riddle, 14, a member of the educators’ club. “They get so excited when you teach them new things.”

Brenna said the middle school students handed out bookmarks with science facts printed on them. The elementary students were given stickers when they answered something correctly, she said.

“That was good reinforcement for them,” she said, throwing out educator jargon like a professional.

Riddle said she has learned that teaching is hard work, especially the preparation involved before teaching a lesson.

Zach Buckler, 12, said he wore a shirt and tie to lend an air of authority to his work with the younger students.

When asked whether he would want to be a teacher as an adult, Zach said, “It seems like it would be a fun thing to do.”

He said he looks forward to a chance to teach at another elementary school later in the year.

“We get to experience their jobs,” he said. “It puts us in their shoes.”

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