Last week, Middle School students had the opportunity to teach or attend workshops taught by their peers. Students could choose from among the 20 sessions offered in categories such as arts/crafts, cooking/baking, self-improvement, podcasting, gaming, magic, wellness, and advocacy.
Middle School Principal Debby Previna explained, “The term ‘Each One Teach One' comes from the long tradition of African Americans relying on each other to learn to read and write and using education as their act of resistance and liberation.”
Each one enslaved person who managed—despite the dangerous obstacles to literacy—to learn to read, took on the community responsibility to teach the next one. Debby wrote more about this idea in a review of the book Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom by Heather Andrea Williams that she published with the Harvard Educational Review in 2007:
“...Williams’s analysis is punctuated with rich anecdotes of ordinary African Americans’ personal and collective fight for education…The powerful narratives of Blacks striving to build their own schools, selecting their own curriculum and teachers, and ultimately setting the educational standard for all southerners entices even the most reticent consumer to read this slice of American history in its entirety.”
Debby created Each One Teach One at GDS because the model speaks to the importance of democratizing education in order to encourage meaningful, purposeful, and collaborative learning. Students do not need teachers to spark curiosity or to learn something deeply; learning is enhanced when driven by purpose. Middle schoolers are ready for that type of challenge. We hope to host more of these in the coming months.”
Students enjoyed the sessions and many asked for more time and longer periods in the future. Based on student feedback, the workshops were valuable for students due not only to their entertainment and educational value, but also as a way to build student connections, confidence, and leadership skills.
Grace ’25 said, “I attended the yoga workshop and the candle making workshop. They were both so fun, and I learned a lot.”
In the yoga session (photos of various sessions below), Dhilan ’25 could be heard instructing participants to “inch your way over and feel the weight go all the way down—it’s okay if you can’t reach all the way” even as he demonstrated moving through downward dog and cobra poses.
In 6th grader Arielle’s session on making tie dye with everyday items from home, the faculty host added the ingredient names to the chat as Arielle demonstrated adding each item on camera.
Asa ’28, who attended Paul’s “You Can Do Magic” session, said, “I thought Paul was doing a great job teaching me magic.”
The opportunity to see their Middle School peers and friends in a teaching role was not lost on Asa or on Tyler ’25, who said, “It was pretty cool! I would be happy to do this again, as this was an experience for me and my classmates to talk [socially] as well as learn something new and exciting.”
Tessa wrote, “I was a little late to the first one, but I still enjoyed doing the finishing yoga poses! It really helped me get some type of exercise in. THE BAKING ONE WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I LOVED MAKING THE CAKE! IT WAS SO FUN!!!”
Charlotte ’26 made a point of recognizing the volunteer presenters in her feedback. She wrote, “[Both sessions] were pretty fun, and I would like to give a shoutout to all the people who hosted a workshop! That takes a lot of courage and bravery, so thanks for acting with courage and helping take care of our community.”
Isaac ’25 made good use of ALL CAPS to express his enthusiasm with the Each One Teach One sessions in his written feedback. He typed, “AMAZING PURELY AMAZING (that's why I used caps lock).”
English teacher Patti Meras, who hosted two of the sessions, said, “The students engaged the attendees and were enthusiastic! In the Amazing Animals session, not only did they provide useful info, but they also invited all attendees to share their pets at the end, and that was delightful.” The workshop invited participants to learn more about animal abuse and different shelters in the area that they could support. Students had the chance to meet their classmates’ pets as well as the pets of faculty and staff members in attendance. Lower School admissions director Githa Natarajan, for example, introduced her dog Rosie, adopted from a local shelter several years ago.
During 5th grader Marcus’s session “Political Reading!” students learned about engaging honestly in civilized conversations with differing points of view, and they learned how important it is to stay “tuned in” and pay attention as “it can affect your life.”
They cooked mushroom gnocchi with Alessandro, baked in various sessions with Helena ‘28, Ella’28, Rachel ‘28, and Lara ‘28, and learned about improvisation from Liv ‘28. Cheyenne ‘25 gave a workshop on soccer footwork, and Lexi ‘25 & Lulu ‘26 revisited their session on confidence shared in the spring with “Confidence is Key 2.0” That self-improvement session drew upwards of 40 participants!
Leila ’28, too, enjoyed the sessions but noted one regret: that she didn’t volunteer to lead a session this time. “I really liked [Each One Teach One]! I wish I had done one! I regret not doing it, but I will do the next one! I really liked the group I was in about animal awareness..and I want to do one like that next time! But otherwise, I LOVED IT!” The students will have another opportunity to attend—and teach—another round of student-led workshops in the coming months.