Teachers were using randomisers or lollysticks to choose random talk partners weekly. Children were changing their roles and responsibilities and also their attitudes towards their classmates.
Compliment slips were used at the end of the week, some glued into books. Success criteria for being a good talk partner were co-constructed.
This has broken barriers in the classroom as children are working with a wide range of people. It is challenging all pupils. Low achievers are choosing more challenging activities and high achievers have to unpick their learning to explain. Children are more confident in discussing their learning.
Some tried changing the layout of the classroom but this was difficult because of access.
Teachers changed random talk partners on Friday or Monday and some used compliment slips for children to write a positive comment to their partner at the end of the week. There was increased confidence and better relationships. Although there were initially scowls at the named partner, this stopped after the first week. One teacher had an initial massive stroppy reaction from 2 children.
Talk partner success criteria were created from teacher/TA modelling in two classes.
The teachers who had straight rows of desks said there was less noise and children were less distracted.
Random talk partners meant children liked that they sometimes sat with friends. Mentoring roles were naturally adopted and hands were up less often, meaning teachers found out who was good at areas they might not have previously had a voice for.
Children help each other in maths even though they are on different challenge levels.
Children love it because they can be mature and get to work with a range of people. They are kind to one another, respectful and have improved their communication skills and their vocabulary. Lower achievers are less passive.
Ability groups had been removed and differentiated maths challenges introduced. Children now have no limitations to their learning and more ownership over it.
The compliment slips have been linked to school values in all schools, so that their compliments are now more specific. Parents commented that there is more teamwork.