It’s 1991, I’m the Head of ICT and Computing in a large secondary school, and one of my briefs is to “get the teachers banging on the doors of the computer rooms demanding to be let in”. I hit on the idea of running a staff IT training session after school, using a group of Year 7 pupils (that is, first year secondary school) as tutors.
These days I think that’s done a lot, but back then it either wasn’t done very much or, at least, it wasn’t talked about. It wasn’t a ‘thing’.
I have to say, I did this with some trepidation. When the headteacher told me he wanted me to get the teachers demanding to use education technology, he forgot to mention that most of them were pretty opposed to the very idea. That was partly because of the old chestnut -- “If I’m getting good grades why do I need to change anything?” -- and partly because the network kept breaking down -- usually when the kids were about to save their work at the end of the lesson. (See 9 Ways To Encourage Reluctant Teachers To Use Education Technology.)
It struck me that if I did the training, saying how great it (IT) all was, people would just groan and say, “There he goes again!”. Therefore, I asked a class of Year 7 pupils if any of them would be willing to help train the teachers, and every hand went up! Once I’d secured parental permission for the children to stay a bit late one evening, I arranged the training session after school. Each teacher who signed up had one pupil helping them. I gave the kids strict instructions that, although the teachers were nowhere as good on the computers as they were, they had to be patient and not just grab the mouse and keyboard away from them.
The pupils were brilliant, as I knew they would be. And the teachers? They said it was the best training ever. The reasons were that they had one-to-one tuition and also, crucially I think, they didn’t have the embarrassment of displaying their ignorance to the whole group when they wanted to ask what they thought was a silly question.
The pupils enjoyed it too. I gave them all a certificate to acknowledge what they’d done. (These days I’d award a digital badge as well.) Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that by helping to teach the teachers, the pupils were also cementing their own knowledge.
I should also point out that these were' not part of a group called Digital Champions or anything like that: they were just “ordinary” pupils. Proving, I think, that given the opportunity many kids will (a) step up the plate and (b) live up to your expectations.