How do you encourage kids to become more responsible? By giving them some responsibilities. This consideration is one of the reasons that some schools have ‘digital champions’ — youngsters who are able to help teachers out when technology problems arise.
Another reason is that many youngsters are more familiar with, and confident about using, technology than their teachers.
And finally, on the principle that many hands make light work, 30 kids in your classroom are a fantastic resource, if used wisely.
So how have schools used their digital champions? Some schools have used them to create PowerPoints for their lessons. On the face of it that sounds like outsourcing your work to unpaid labour. However, it can be pedagogically sound if the aim of it is to check a pupil’s understanding, and also to provide a resource for pupils who may have missed the lesson to use.
For example, you might assign one pupil in each lesson to create a PowerPoint summarising the main points that were covered in the lesson. After checking it and correcting it for any errors, the teacher uploads it to the school’s resources area. Imagine what a wonderful resource bank will be built up in a very short time if you did that for every lesson.
Another school I visited had set up their equivalent of Apple’s Genius Bar, after going over to an iPads-for-all scheme. Each lunchtime, a group of children would be available at the back of the dining room to help other pupils — and teachers! — with simple (but very frustrating) problems.
Because lots of pupils were involved they had to have a rota system, whereby some would be in the ‘Genius Bar’ on Monday, some on Tuesday, and so on. This added another layer of responsibility because the pupils had to make sure they turned up for their rota.
The scheme also had a knock-on effect on the school’s IT technical support team, in that they were no longer having to deal with lots of relatively trivial (from a technical point of view) problems, thereby preventing them attending to much larger issues.
In some schools, digital champions are on hand to help fix a printer jam or replace printer paper. The knowledge that such pupils are in the classroom can reduce the fear that some teachers experience when considering using education technology in their lessons.
The concept of digital champions can be widened to include other tasks. For example, when I was teaching I would have pupils on hand at parents’ evenings to help direct car parking and to point parents to the right rooms for their interviews.
In some schools I worked in, the children would make cakes and offer them to parents (for a small price!).
Some schools I know of run peer tutoring sessions, in which pupils who have excelled in a certain area help others who are struggling. In this kind of scheme, the make-up of the pupil champion group is fluid, because it will change according to the subject and what is being covered in lessons at any particular time.
You can probably think of several other ways in which pupils could help out and take on some responsibilities.
In my experience, pupils enjoy taking on these extra roles, and they like it even more if their contribution is acknowledged in some way. I gave them smart-looking badges saying “Student Helper”, but you could also give them certificates. If any of them show outstanding skills or commitment, perhaps you could reward them with a digital badge or something like an iTunes or Amazon token. Groupcall Messenger offers a certificates feature, with over 20 professionally designed cards that can be sent home to parents, which can then be printed and placed on display to help remind children of their achievements. For those looking for something more personal, new e-card designs can be created and sent out via the same system.
Ah, you say, but what about the miscreants of the pupil world, the ones that constantly disrupt lessons and get into trouble? Surprisingly perhaps, I always found that those kids often made the best pupil champions. Suddenly they were in a position of influence in a good way, and had some responsibility into which to channel their energy. It also helped to improve their behaviour in my lessons.
There’s no doubt that a pupil champions scheme can be beneficial to teachers, parents and, most importantly of all, the pupils themselves.
To find out more about how Groupcall Messenger can help encourage students achieve greater things, read more on our product page.