|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.
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:
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.