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Little Teachers (Part 2 of 2): An Interview with the Little Teachers of Colegio Las Hayas


A bare, rectangle-shaped window hovers on a plain wall over a long table of computers. Colorful LEGO bricks transformed into vibrant tigers, robots, and a pair of fencing mummies enliven the tabletop of muted, white computers. The bustling of rambunctious children and the clacking of keyboards echoes off the linoleum floor, while a group of three boys and two girls – wearing matching uniforms of sky blue polo shirts and navy jumpers – sit patiently in a row. 


They are waiting to tell their story.


These are the “Little Teachers” – five extraordinary student-teachers that teach Scratch to young students, peers, and adults in classroom and conference settings. The team was initiated by Ms. Lula, the students’ robotics class instructor. The youngest is 10-year-old Bernardo, and the oldest is Federico. A veteran at age 18, Federico is one of the founding members at and will end his tenure at graduation this year. Jeronimo, an eighth grader, has been teaching for 3 years. Mariana and Regina, ages 16 and 13, have been programming in Scratch for a while.


MC:  How did you first join the group?

F:  I first got started when we were at a summer course, and then I went to Holland for a robotics competition with Ms. Lula. After we got back from Holland, Ms. Lula told me about this idea about becoming a little teacher.

R:  I came with a friend and I liked it, so I joined the robotics club. Over the years, I learned how to program, and Ms. Lula asked me to be a teacher.

J:  I started helping John Galinato [project manager of Build-It-Yourself, an after-school STEM enrichment program] from MIT and meeting him in weekly webcasts, and then I started teaching at a conference and in class.


MC:  Do you like being a little teacher?

B:  Yes, I like it.

F:  My first experience of being a teacher was at first shocking. Being a student for half of the day and being a teacher for half of the day was a little strange and the idea of teaching boys and girls that I see everyday at school was a little strange at the beginning, but now I like it. It’s very interesting.

R:  I like it a lot. It’s funny.


MC:  Why funny?

R:  Sometimes you know a lot of persons or sometimes you feel nervous, but then I found out that it’s easy and not that difficult.


MC:  Do you ever feel that teaching is difficult or challenging?

B:  The hardest thing is when the kids are very excited and it is very difficult to tell them to sit down and work.

J:  It’s not very difficult because Scratch is easy, but very powerful. Teaching the basics is quick and then going farther is not very hard.

R:  And when it’s hard I get a lot of help from my friend, Mariana, and my other friends.


MC: Tell me about your students.

B:  They are changing all the time. Sometimes they are other students of my school, sometimes of other schools, or other ages.


MC: What is it like to teach people that are similar to your age?

J:  My age boys and girls learn very, very quickly. They learn by themselves. Little children take more time, but they all learn things according to their age.


MC:  Any advice for other teachers?

R:  To be patient…

M:  Yes

R:  …and open minded


MC:  Why do you say that?

M:  Because if you aren’t patient with the many kids, you will get exasperated and…

R:  You will get nervous.

J:  I think it is letting the kids, or whoever you are teaching, explore the program first. And then for them to make small things, just to explore. They start building things very quickly. Then, what they can do, is to think about what they want to build, and then teach them how to make instructions for doing things in the real world. This could be a game or something.

F:  I like to play with Scratch with my students.


MC:  Can you remember any particularly interesting experiences while teaching?

B:  Yes, when I was teaching somebody and I made a lot of friends by teaching them. Sometimes I learn things by observing the experiences of the students.

F:  The kids make me learn new things too. One time, a girl asked me how to make a flower in LEGO.  I  was like “Uh, okay, I only know how to make animals and you want me to make a plant?” But it was very interesting. These days, I realize that I’ve learned a lot from the kids. 

R:  I like teaching. It’s really nice because it can also change your way of thinking. They help you open your mind while you are teaching them.

M:  You can explain something and they can think a different idea from the one you said, but sometimes you find out that the ideas that they have are better than yours. 

F:  During the summer course, I was making a space invaders game with the class and everyone was putting in ideas ad images and the final idea was a flying car that froze jam and sausages. So it was funny, weird, I don’t know, interesting in my life. I think that’s a very good day in my experience.


MC:  Who is the leader of the team?

F:  It’s not like a leadership.  It’s more like a little family. We tell jokes, we laugh, we help each other. It’s not like you’re the leader and I ask you to do things, it’s more like you’re my brother and you can help me and I help you

R:  We decide based on experience and knowledge.

M:  And that’s also what we like to do. The boys like building with LEGOs and we like designing and programming.


MC:  Do you ever have a hard time working as a group?

R:  Sometimes, when we don’t agree with the boys.

M:  Sometimes the boys had an idea, but we didn’t agree with that idea, so we said, “No, we don’t want to do that.” So, we agreed on something that was similar to the idea they had, but also with our ideas.

R:  It’s different because in most groups it’s either more boys and less girls or girls and boys in the same amount, but we work together with different opinions.


MC:  What about future plans? What do you want to do when you grow up?

F:  Culinary arts.

Federico plans to still use Scratch to make an interactive recipe book, joining both of his passions for culinary arts and technology.

J:  I would enjoy still working with computers and robotics. I think it would be great if I could go to MIT. But I also like Biology and things like that.

B:  I don’t know yet.


MC:  Do you want to keep teaching in the future?

B:  Yes

M:  Maybe.

R:  Maybe.


MC:  Maybe?

R:  I have an idea to study cooking.

M:  I like to do other things too. I want to become a writer. 


Listening to Bernado, Jeronimo, Mariana, Regina, and Federico talk about teaching, it’s easy to forget that they are still students. After sharing their teaching experiences, they talk excitedly about their current Scratch projects. Regina and Mariana are collaborating on a project about the sport of fencing, but around the theme of Halloween, celebrated as The Day of the Dead in Mexico. They have crafted colorful mummy fencing partners using the LEGO WeDo Robotics kit. Federico has been drawing elaborate pictures for his project, which maps the evolution of music from prehistoric to contemporary time, and Bernardo is devising a racecar video game in his free time at home.


As teachers, this group of students has a lot to offer: commitment to supporting learning, volunteerism, creativity, understanding, and not to mention some mad Scratch programming skills. After the interview, it’s obvious that the brightest things in Ms. Lula’s computer lab aren’t made out of LEGO. These little teachers and their beautiful work are what take the spotlight.




Little Teachers of Colegio Las Hayas (from left to right): Jeronimo, Bernardo, Frederico, Mariana, and Regina