"Helping each other is great." —Jonathan H., student
"Sharing the wealth was, to me, one of the most valuable ideas of this class. I know I have been fortunate to have peers willing to teach me the ideas I struggled with. I feel that I also had a great deal of impact on other students as well. Everyone worked well together and cooperated, unlike anything I have ever seen before." —Francesca F., student
Everyone’s in the room and I’ve given them the usual thirty seconds or so to settle in, finish their conversations and give me their attention. We are ready.
“You already know this, but I think it’s worth repeating. When you are working in small groups, it is usually much easier to share your learning experience with each other than it would be in the whole class structure. Working together as a whole class is useful for some things, but for conversations, where you are going to learn the most rapidly and deeply, small groups are much better. And you will find over time that your sense of trust and even loyalty to your group will develop into something deep and meaningful. It also helps all of us feel a true sense of community in this room.
“The groups you have been working with so far have been random and temporary, so your sense of commitment to them has probably not been all that strong. Even so, how useful have you found going over homework together, or reviewing tests?”
“It has been incredible for me,” Nadeen says. “I didn’t realize how much difference it would make at first, but as I got into it and started asking more questions, I discovered I could really learn what hadn’t made sense while I was reading. That’s made all the difference for me.”
“And I noticed that when I really get it and find myself in the role of teaching someone, I realize I didn’t understand it as well as I thought I had.” Tom has said something similar to me in private conversations. I’m glad he’s making it a public statement - it’s a big step for him because he’s generally unwilling to take a position in front of the whole class. “When someone asks a question, it takes me out of taking things for granted - I have to recognize when I was kidding myself about how well I got it.”
“Well, I don’t know if it’s just me, or maybe I haven’t found the right group yet, but I have to admit it hasn’t been all that useful for me. I generally know what I’m talking about before we get together as a group, and the conversation isn’t covering any ground I don’t already know. At least, it seems that way to me.”
“Jordan, I hope you’ll find that with a permanent group that you’ll grow to respect and trust over time, your experience will be more useful and satisfying for you”, I say.
"Working with people helps me both when I understand a topic and when I don’t." —Ellie L., student
"Students teaching students is a great idea because kids actually do not pay that much attention to teachers." —Dave J., student