Lately, Steve Holle has been working with Junior Achievement and their innovative High School Heroes program. Junior Achievement’s (JA) High School Heroes Program (HSHP) affords a unique opportunity for high school students to experience hands-on teaching in an elementary school classroom. After completing comprehensive training by a JA representative, participants received a grade-level appropriate teaching kit containing all the necessary materials to successfully deliver five common core standards-based interactive lessons. Each of the six sequential instructional themes (one per grade level) augments and supports skills and competencies embedded in the K-5 social studies curriculum. These themes are: Ourselves, Our Families, Our Community, Our City, Our Region, and Our Nation. JA’s goal is for students to begin to conceptualize business and economics by bringing theory to life and reveal how education is relevant to the 21st century worldwide market place (see JA.org).
Besides JA’s worthy business and economic objectives, Steve was particularly curious to discover if this classroom teaching experience might have an impact on these high school students’ interest in pursuing a teaching career. Consequently, he developed a brief “pre and post” survey to ascertain any change in attitude.
High school students introduce business and economic objectives to elementary children.
Thirty-two 10th grade students from a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) high school walked to a “feeder” elementary school to deliver the HSH lessons. These high school students were all members of an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class. AVID is a college readiness system designed to close the achievement gap for all students by preparing them to be academically successful in a global society while being leaders and role models for their peers (see AVID.org).
Initially, when asked if they ever considered becoming a teacher, 25% had a positive response, whereas after teaching these lessons 44% identified teaching as a possible career option. Interestingly, when questioned to identify their biggest success, exactly one-half of the participants stated, “Teaching the kids.” One quote to which all educators can certainly relate, “Seeing the kids smile when they successfully finished an assignment.” When invited to share their biggest challenge, as a majority of veteran teachers might imagine, the most prominent identified difficulty (37.5%) was classroom management. Comments were made such as, “Pay attention,” “Be Quiet,” “Getting kids to listen,” and one even mentioned “Calming down the children that were crying.”
Findings of this survey suggest that being exposed to teaching in a real-life environment can have a positive impact on these high school students’ perspective about considering a teaching career. Furthermore, this investigation indicates that testing the waters through an early classroom teaching experience has the potential to open the mind of a high school student and hopefully inspire confidence to dive into a teaching career path.
Elementary students present their culminating projects to their classmates.