clear How Do You Start a Cross-Age Teaching Program?

Step 1: Determine Your Focus

Decide what age your students will be and what you want to teach them. While you may revise this initial decision, you need to start your program with a specific direction. Many youth like to teach younger children because they can relate well to them and may remember some of their own problems at that age. Younger children, in turn, usually look up to and admire teenagers, which gives you an excellent opportunity to teach effectively and serve as a strong role model.

Teaching older people can be rewarding too. Working with senior citizens, for example, you will gain new perspectives, make friends, and acquire a sense of history. Your older students will benefit too as you give them stimulating new skills to master and expose them to your energy, enthusiasm, and idealism.

Step 2: Find Students

After choosing a subject to teach and selecting the age group you would like to teach, you must find students. Talk with people who can help you reach the population that you're interested in -- school principals, youth center managers, day care providers, nursing home administrators, and heads of senior citizen programs. Explain what you want to teach and why you think your program can help a particular age group. Propose a possible teaching schedule (with specific days and times) and identify possible facilities you can use for your program.

Planning a Successful Project

For more information on how to plan a successful project, see the National Youth Network's Planning a Successful Crime Prevention Project. This 28-page workbook explains the five steps of the Success Cycle:

  • Assessing Your Community's Needs.
  • Planning a Successful Project.
  • Lining Up Resources.
  • Acting on Your Plans.
  • Nurturing, Monitoring, and Evaluating.

The workbook includes six worksheets for you to take notes on. You can get a copy of this planning workbook from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, listed in the Resources section. Good luck!

Step 3: Research Your Subject

Next, you'll need to do some research on your subject to make sure that you teach the most current and accurate information available. Talk with people who regularly teach that subject. Ask what resources -- books, videotapes, brochures, Web sites -- they use to update their knowledge. Ask experienced educators about teaching techniques that are particularly effective with the specific age group you have chosen to teach. Preschool teachers, for example, may be willing to meet with your group and explain how to conduct "show and tell" or a "sharing circle." High school or college teachers may offer tips on lecturing and group work or explain how to have students prepare and deliver PowerPoint presentations.

Step 4: Develop Lesson Plans

Now you're ready to develop lesson plans. For each teaching session, your lesson plan should identify and describe the following:

bullet Learning objectives (that is, what you want your students to understand or be able to do by the end of the lesson).
bullet Teaching methods -- such as lecture, demonstration, small groups, or brainstorming -- that you will use to meet your objectives.
bullet Key facts, pieces of information, or techniques that you need to convey.
bullet Materials, resources, handouts, and equipment you will need.
bullet Levels of performance that indicate success.

Step 5: Seek Advice

Talk with experienced teachers. They may even be willing to provide sample lesson plans, critique your lesson plans, and provide advice on refining your presentation skills.

Step 6: Practice

Conduct practice teaching sessions with veteran teachers or group members playing the part of your students. Borrow a video camera, if possible, to tape the sessions. Watching and analyzing videotaped sessions is a great way to evaluate the effectiveness of both your lesson and your teaching style.

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Youth In Action Bulletin July 1999   black   Number 06