SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development was proud to partner with SD Coordinated School Health and SD 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program to bring the Teens as Teachers - Take A Stand training to South Dakota Schools and Communities. Five school teams consisting of 21 Teens as Teachers (TAT) were trained from Andes Central, Belle Fourche, Burke, Clark and Winner. Reaching 290 elementary and middle school youth with Take A Stand lessons. In July, the Teens As Teachers program was selected as this year's winner of the SDACTE (South Dakota Association for Career and Technical Education) Award of Merit.
The Take A Stand Program is an enrichment program focusing on conflict management and bullying. Lesson topics included: communication, teamwork, etiquette, social skills, empathy and cultural awareness. Students received handouts, resources and certificates of completion. In the South Dakota schools, curriculum for grades 3-5 and 6-8 were used.
Through the above lessons, the Take A Stand Program offered elementary and middle school youth the opportunity to learn:
- How to solve their conflicts using peaceful methods including expressing themselves with words instead of physical actions.
- Skills in communication, teamwork, cultural awareness and etiquette which assisted them to solve their current conflicts.
- Life skills which will help in their future relationships, community organizations and careers.
The Take A Stand Lessons addressed the SD Health Education Standards and Performance Indicators as well as SD Legislation SB 130, 2012 - School Bullying Prevention Act. By using the Take A Stand Enrichment Program, Teens as Teachers were assisting their schools in teaching decision-making skills to enhance health and in preventing bullying in their schools.
The Teens as Teachers Program is a two part program. Part 1 is to develop teen leadership skills and provide teens with a career learning opportunity. Part 2 provides elementary and/or middle school youth with subject matter taught by a teen mentor. The program is a win-win for both teen teachers and the students they taught which was evidenced by the student survey responses below.
Teens as Teachers were asked, “How did participating in TAT - Take A Stand personally impact you?”
Teen Teachers learned bullying is a part of life from young to old. Many teens stated they now know what bullying is and the consequences of bullying which led some teens to admit, “They used to tease more” (beyond what was fun for everyone). Teens and their audience of elementary students learned new methods and tips through the lessons on dealing appropriately with conflict. Teens as Teachers made it so “we had to advocate against bullying,” stated one teen teacher.
The Teens as Teachers experience helped teens become more comfortable speaking/teaching in front of children, more self-confident in working with adults, more responsible and to be more cooperative and flexible when working as a team. Teens shared it made them become more flexible because they learned about sacrifice and negotiation in working with teachers, classroom schedules and their fellow teen teacher’s schedule. Self-confidence and communication skills were developed when teens sought teacher’s advice on “how to deal with difficult kids and situations in the classroom”. Teens learned if they were not prepared the elementary students would “see right through them” which at times led to the consequence of elementary students misbehaving. Teen responsibility qualities positively increased due to working in peer teams; students were depending on each other to do their part of the lesson plan. Students stated keeping track of everything, staying organized, being ready and knowing what they would teach ahead of time made them more responsible. Not only did the teens learn to become more responsible for themselves they also learned that they had to be responsible for others (the elementary students in the classroom). Some teens reported that working with a Supervising and Advising Teacher taught them to become more responsible because they had to “show up” for meetings and classroom teaching.
Career experience was gained by the students because the Teens as Teachers program is designed to provide teens with first-hand experience teaching in a classroom or Afterschool setting. During this experience, some teens learned they may prefer to teach at the high school or college level while some learned they needed to teach children younger than 6th grade. While others gained the insight that even though they liked watching children learn, teaching was a high stress job for them which lead them to continue exploring future career options.
Teens summarized their experience by stating:
- “The benefits from working with children are phenomenal. As you are teaching them, you learn things from them. Whether it's communication, confidence, responsibility, or remaining calm; these skills are extremely valuable skills and can be used later in life.”
- “I really enjoyed the program and highly recommend it to future students. It really helped me grow as a person”.
- “This program is beneficial for all involved; teachers, kids, partners, and the teen teachers. I strongly encourage SDSU Extension to continue this program.”
3rd Grade Elementary Students self-reported, when asked, “What was the most important thing you learned in the Take a Stand Program?”
- To not bully other people and how to stop it
- To be nice/kind to people
- Respect others so they respect you (teachers)
- Different cultures do different things
- Not to be mean to others
- How to control my anger – keep your cool
- To stand up for others
- Don't bully others who are different
- Helping people
- If someone is being mean to you just walk away