All teachers had introduced random talk partners using lollysticks or an internet spinning wheel. A Velcro name chart to show the pairs remains visual all week. Children choose where to sit with their new partner, although there is some teacher control over this for certain pupils.
All children look forward to this and enjoy it. Sometimes teachers cringe at certain pairings but realise that there are always benefits and new social skills developed. The week goes by quickly! On Mondays they ask ‘Are we changing talk partners today?’
In a smaller class the same pairs join up more often.
Parents have been asking about talk partners. One said a child had not enjoyed being with a certain child, most say the impact has been positive.
There is benefit for SEND and EAL as they have contributed more and developed their language and vocabulary.
In Year 1 all children thank their partner for something they have learnt from them. All teachers ask children to identify a strength in their partner which relates to a learning power. They have become better at being more specific about what they have learnt and the strengths of their partner.
Children have made more friends, as they tend to play with their partner at playtime.
It has reduced the workload of planning who will sit next to who.
Triads had been used but teachers found one child was often left out.
One teacher can’t remember where the children sit when giving out books.
It helps when children are stuck to talk to their partner or use the 3B4 me poster (a list of what to do when you’re stuck). This means there are fewer interruptions and children are making more independent decisions. This is building confidence.
A little boy with autistic behaviour never previously had anyone to play with so played alone. He now has interactions and seeks out his talk partner. He is now talking more and developing social skills at playtime.