Teachers described how children are building relationships with their partners and because of random talk partners can now work with a range of different children. Collective efficacy is demonstrated: the talk develops confidence, increased talk reduces children’s perceptions of their ability. Children’s listening had improved when teachers started saying ‘What did your partner say?’ Conversations were now learning focused rather than just chat. New friendships were developing.
Rows didn’t work for Reception and the areas of provision.
Behaviour had improved.
Three teachers had co-constructed success criteria for being a good talk partner.
– The children have changed talk partners weekly. They really look forward to swapping and remind me every Wednesday!
– It is a fantastic opportunity for the children to work with everyone. They are definitely sharing and discussing their ideas more (evident through taking the children’s ideas after discussions using lollipop stick technique – all of them have an answer and give confident responses.)
– The less able children are prepared and supported.
– It challenges the other children as they have to explain their thoughts.
– It also raises expectations for everyone and the children really bounce off of each other and encourage each other.
– The children have better discussions now they are face and look at each other. They are more on task and there is better dialogue.
– Behaviour has also improved. They know that they only have a week so they make the most of this time.
“It has made me happy because I get to sit next to lots of my friends. There’s lots to talk about and we all have different minds.” Juana
“I felt shocked when we changed partners! I didn’t realise that we were going to sit next to different people every week. It’s nice to talk and to meet different people.” Ben
“I’m so happy to see everyone!”
“I like turning to my talk partner. I can see her and talk to her more. It makes it easier and I like to share our ideas.” Imogen
“I think people take their turn more rather than speaking over you. They look at you and pay more attention.” Ava
“It makes me feel loved. I get to say the things I want to say patiently. It makes my heart smile.” Jessica
“Turning your neck hurts. Turning your body is better.” Jacob
“Look after your partner. They are special.” Madison
“It has made me happy and excited. Who am I going to sit next to tomorrow?” Sienna
“Before I felt that it might be a bit boring to change every week because I was trying to do something and it changed. Now it’s exciting and I have getting a new talk partner.” Harry S
“I don’t like it when my partner speaks over me. We still need to practise.” Ava
“Talking in a 3 can be tricky if they don’t include me.” William
“It makes me sad when my partner talks to someone else and not me. We need to remember who our partners are. Looking at the pictures will remind us.” Jacob
“I need to encourage my talk partner to have a chat with me.” Rosie
“She worked with me nicely, listened to me nicely, we have a lovely conversation and I love her because she is my friend.” Jess
“I said I liked how you listened to me.” Evelyn
“I like my partner because he was being so kind to me.” Harry S
“I like my partner because she was trying to help me if I felt a little bit stuck.” Imogen
“I thanked my partner for sitting nicely and paying me attention.” Harry W
“I like my partner because he helps me learn a little bit.” Juana
“I liked my partner because I’m sometimes stuck and he helps me learn.” Ben
“I like my partner because she is so helpful to me and so kind.” Maiya
“I like my partner because he took care of me.” Ava
Emma Martin Bishop – Henderson Primary
Collective student efficacy
When the children are discussing their ideas, they become more confident, resilient and open to sharing their ideas.
They bounce off each other and have such enthusiasm. You can physically see the change in them when they are about to feed back too. They hold their heads up higher, sit taller and show that they want to share their ideas.
Emma Martin – Bishop Henderson School
Year 1 learning partners chosen randomly has been easier than the teachers expected. The classes have better relationships as a class. Where there are tricky pairs it is an opportunity to build social skills. Lollysticks or names on Velcro were used to pick pairs in Y1 and pictures of the children in Nursery (called ‘play buddies’). In Nursery this increased friendships and there were surprisingly good unexpected pairings.
Teachers choose where the pairs sit.
Thank you messages are given by children to their partner on a Monday morning. Children work positively over these.
Two teachers used threes for children with EAL. One child previously in a three aske to be in a two like everyone else and now can’t stop talking. He observed and got involved.
Tables were now in rows in the Y1 classes with Velcro on pencil pots. Children concentrate better in rows. It is also easier to model, assess and get around the room. All can now see.
We have introduced sections in lessons where learning partners need to work together on tasks, but they both need to finish before moving on. This has encouraged them to work together to succeed and has forced the high achievers to explain their reasoning to their partners. It has resulted in a more collaborative learning dynamic between children and developed relationships. Success isn’t finishing first; it’s working with your partner to succeed.
Dai – Earlsfield Primary
All teachers changed learning partners weekly and had modelled being a good learning partner. The named lollysticks were used for the random choosing. Achievement has been accelerated across the class and friendship groups have developed. The children are more helpful towards one another and they have an opportunity to access higher learning than previously given.
The lollysticks are used for random questioning which has made the children more attentive and more confident. The discussion gives them a chance to practise their answers with their partner.
Talk partners makes lower achievers sit taller, to give things a go more often and are more engaged = collective efficacy.