Learning partners was the preferred term used by these teachers, which had led to children talking about their learning. Children were more focused.
Success criteria for learning partners had been created together and compliment slips were given to each other on a Friday, collated in their own book for future reflection. Children need to keep having their attention brought back to the criteria.
Children have become more effective communicators and it has enabled all the children to feel valued. It has successfully addressed the hierarchy that had existed in the class and created more equality. Children are more engaged and more active.
One boy told the teacher ‘I really like Lois. I’ve never really talked to her before.’
Changing the layout of the class to a horseshoe shape had led to children saying that they were more focused, could concentrate better and could see the whiteboard more easily.
Lower achievers were gaining in confidence and higher achievers were valuing other children.
One parent questioned the strategy but the child was able to explain the purpose.
Isaac’s mother came in to ask why he was put with lower achieving children. Thankfully Isaac was able to convince his mother by telling her that his explaining methods helped him understand his strategies and to build his reasoning skills!
All teachers were using random talk partners. Children were more engaged and looked forward to the weekly change. Teachers had learnt a lot about the children, especially in terms of not lowering expectations for lower achievers.
Some threes were made for SEN and EAL which gave those children the chance to be involved yet listen.
Asking ‘What did you partner say?’ was a very good listening tool. Having short talk times meant there was no time for children to mess around.
Having no hands up means children have to be ready to answer a question at any time.
Being in mixed ability had influenced their confidence in being able to choose challenges which were not always in their comfort zone.
There have been times where adaptations have needed to be made in order to ensure the safety of all pupils. After a physical fight between two boys, they were then chosen randomly to be learning partners for the week. I asked them if they could cope with being learning partners this week and they said they couldn’t. Their names were put back into the pot and new partners were selected.
It was made clear that this was a special circumstance and they have had to work together since.
Sarah Lund, Stretham Primary
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