Kids helping kids

A little while ago, the class reflected on whether there was more to being a successful learner than concentrating hard and working hard. They decided that there most definitely was! From this came the idea of ‘learning buddies.’ Students would tell me what learning skills they were good at and which they needed to work on (such as risk taking and goal setting). From this, I paired up children as a ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ according to their strengths and weaknesses. The teacher would help the student with a skill they were good at but the student needed to work on.

It was a bit of an experiment  I really had no idea how this would work: whether the teachers would put enough effort in, whether they would have the skills to help their peers and whether the students would actually gain any learning skills from the experience. In the back of my mind I thought, at the very least, all the children would learn some leadership skills; they’d get a buzz out of helping out their peers with something they were deemed an expert at; they’d have to think of someone other than themselves; they’d have to problem solve and be creative when their teaching idea didn’t work; and they’d have to take on some more responsibility within the classroom.

It turns out all the outcomes I wished for have eventuated. The students are liking the responsibility and the challenge. They are realising that helping others can be difficult but can be hugely rewarding too. Of course there have been children who have struggled to plan and help others but, for the most part, they have solved their own problems with help from their peers. They are basically team teaching at their own instigation.

The creativity in teaching has been great to see too. An awful lot of effort has been put in to designing brilliant lessons. One child had to help another with creativity and designed an activity whereby she would pose a scenario and the ‘student’ would have to write ideas down both within a box drawn on the piece of paper and outside the box. This way, according to the teacher, the student would be able to see clearly and visually what creative thinking was all about.

I don’t think I will keep this exact system going for too much longer but students have started taking their own ‘opt-in’ meetings with small groups and they will also begin taking ‘In your element’ lessons to share their passions too. Everyone is a teacher and a learner in Room 3.


3 thoughts on “Kids helping kids

  1. This is fantastic Emma. True tuakana teina. Our Montessori classrooms have been experimenting with something similar. Older students go to the next door classrooms to teach lessons. All the things you mentioned have been happening! Students are starting to see their strengths as well as the challenges that trying to teach a less experienced person brings. Keep up the good work!

  2. We have had similar success in maths whereby peer tutoring by mixed ability couples have seen children moving from teacher directed lessons to engaging with each other to evaluate their peers progress, identify next learning steps and suggesting best ways forward . What has been really exciting is seeing the motivational levels of reluctant students increase with peer support, feedback and commitment to their buddies learning

    1. Hi Carolyn, Thanks for the comment. I’ve used peer tutoring and feedback lots before for academic areas but was really unsure as to whether this would work with skills. I think even teachers find it difficult to know how to best teach skills like risk taking and so on successfully. It has been great to see kids having success with a more difficult area of tutoring.

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