All teachers had tried random learning partners using lollysticks, cards with children’s names and a sorting hat. ‘Bad’ combinations led to pairs usually seeing this as a challenge and rising to it.
They were all involved in rules for being a good learning partner and know how to learn together, in all subjects.
Compliment slips at the end of the week had been introduced by 3 teachers which had raised children’s self-esteem and made them work harder to be a good partner.
One class had a ‘shout out’ jar: when a child thinks their partner is being a good partner they write it down and put it in the jar. These were then saved and put in a book at the end of the year to take home.
All teachers had tried mixed ability pairings for maths and had found that children helped each other even if they were on different tasks. They also became more independent and less reliant on adult help.
Three teachers had tried different table layouts and let children choose which one they preferred. Children are more focused because they know the reason for the seating arrangement.
Lollysticks were used to answer questions which meant all children were now ready to answer and questions to a pair was more enabling than to individuals.
Talk partners worked well in all classes although a few children didn’t want to work with their partner. Most children have fed back how much they enjoyed working with different partners.
Two teachers used the compliment slip which they felt had promoted the learning aspect of talk partners.
Two teachers had rearranged their seating so that children faced the front. The impact was mixed: children were more focused and behaviour improved, rooms had to be big enough to accommodate the change, straight lines benefitted the use of learning partners and the random p[airings embedded the mixed ability culture.
All teachers had made the learning partners random and changed weekly. Children know it’s fair and look forward to their new partner each week. One teacher had pre taught to prepare lower achieves with low confidence and less prior knowledge so that they would be able to engage. Self-confidence and self-esteem went up and children’s perceptions about their peers changed for the better. They are learning the life skill of mixing with lots of different people.
Parents need to be educated about the growth mindset.