“Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.”– Robert Staubach
A few years ago I did an interview, now, I am not a fan of interviews especially when I am in the same room with the other contenders who seem to have a bigger advantage and I just think wow they look like they have the job already! Nevertheless, it’s something we all must do from time to time. Now, as I was saying, I went into this interview for a teaching role with additional responsibilities and I was asked to describe one or two strategies that have helped to improve my students’ outcomes; I mentioned two that I often used, one, in particular, was Peer Teaching.
As a student, I found this help from my peers very rewarding so as soon as I entered the classroom as a teacher I often had my students assist each other. Once I realized the impact of this I started designing my seating plans with this idea in mind. Once I knew my students and their capabilities I would assign seats that allowed a more abled child to help a struggling pupil. It worked a vast majority of the times over the years but I didn’t think of it as a strategy (I had no idea a question like this was ever going to be asked in an interview so it’s a good thing it was a normal part of my lessons….came off the tip of my tongue)
Except, the two people who did the interviews had poker faces until I mentioned my ‘strategies’ especially this one. Seeing their surprised faces I blurted out, “well, I know that it is nothing new or grand and perhaps is one of the most commonly used strategies in a classroom BUT I have seen my students make progress when they can re-explain with clarity what I explained or demonstrated to the whole class ….” (so much for my confidence right! Hehe)
Needless to say, I don’t remember the rest of the interview but, I did not think that explanation went down well (not even sure if I spoke English for the rest of the interview because at that moment I felt foolish for thinking or saying out loud that such a thing was worth citing as a ‘strategy’ for a big role). Anyway, didn’t get that role but was offered another.
Fast-forward to this day, I continue to use my peer teaching and I am happy with the gains made by pupils each time. It was incredibly helpful last Autumn term when I was not able to support my students individually due to social distancing measures.
I decided to share this strategy with you because it may be a good idea to use as you create your new seating plans for your students. Here in the UK, England specifically, we will be returning to face-to-face teaching tomorrow (8th March) and no doubt we will need to revisit and readapt our teaching.
Secondly, I am currently finishing my reading of the book “Talk-Less Teaching” by Isabella Wallace & Leah Kirkman and one of their strategies to improve pupil progress is named “Using Peer Teaching to maximise Progress”. This book explains that two things happen when learners learn something new and have to ‘teach’ it to another person:
a. the individual’s understanding of the concept becomes more profound.
b. the learner becomes aware of areas that they did not understand and thus needs further clarity on that concept.
Talk-Less Teaching listed Peer Teaching as a broad Strategy that had multiple ways of executing this effectively. It gives examples and detailed explanations of how to use Peer Teaching in your classroom to maximise pupil progress.
As we go back to Face to Face teaching, I hope we will find creative ways of helping our students learn while being socially distanced from us.
Cheers to becoming the best version of ourselves for ourselves and our number one clients – our students.
p.s I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to some semblance of normalcy in teaching, albeit in my not so cute mask and face shield.