Peer Supports

Inclusive Schools Network recognizes the importance of promoting peer relationships. One important aspect of peer relationships involves peer tutors or peer assistants in the classroom.  ISN offers a variety of resources for establishing a formal peer tutoring program in your school.  As we visit schools around the US, we find very few with formal peer tutoring programs that have procedures for selecting peer tutors, providing training needed to fill the role of peer tutor, or for evaluating the success of the program. We have several free tools to help you and your school cross these hurdles. 

Another aspect of peer to peer relationships is the instructional avenues for promoting more peer interactions, such as cooperative learning, pair learning, and other collaborative learning opportunities that are easily imbedded into a good lesson design. You will find several tools that provide for more frequent peer interactions around instructional tasks.

We live in an interdependent world. To be successful in relating to people, we should be comfortable both giving and receiving help. Every teacher should consciously plan for these reciprocal interactions on a daily basis. Think of the many ways in which this can be accomplished. Just a few ideas include:

  • Working with other students to locate reference materials in the library for class study;
  • Distributing assignments or graded work to the class, just as typical peers fill this role;
  • Assisting fellow students in checking their work with a teacher-provided answer key;
  • Calling out spelling words to individual students in preparation for a test;
  • And many more ways linked to classroom tasks and learning assignments.

Help us add to this list of ways all students can find meaningful roles of helping and being helped in an inclusive classroom. Please send your ideas and suggestions to support@inclusiveschools.org.

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Peers Supporting an Inclusive School Climate

Author: Toni Riester-Wood, Ph.D. Inclusive schools promote respectful and supportive relationships, avoid the bullying epidemic, and build the attributes of positive peer-to-peer interactions. Due to the current state of our national economy and shrinking education budgets, schools and businesses alike are striving for both efficient and effective ways to maximize resources. One very powerful resource that is… Read More

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Tools for Peer Tutoring Programs

Peer Tutoring Weekly Log Cross-age peer tutors should complete a form like this one to document their support sessions and provide the teacher with information about student participation in this instructional process.  Incorporating Peer Supports Into Inclusive Instruction Use this guide to assist teachers in considering appropriate collaborative activities to supplement and enhance classroom instruction. … Read More

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Planning and Implementing Peer Support Systems

Use this six step process to plan and implement successful peer support systems in your school. Step 1: Planning Team Who will serve on the planning team? What are the goals of the program? Step 2: Program Procedures Who will coordinate the program? What is the name of the program? Step 3: Recruit and Select… Read More

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Leadership Connection: Building Natural Supports

Author: Toni Riester-Wood, Ph.D. Too often when thinking about students with special education needs being included in a general education classroom, many will make the assumption that we need to provide an adult to “accompany or assist” the student. Then, too often this well-meaning adult may “velcro” themselves to the student which my actually create more dependency… Read More

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Teacher Talk: Building Natural Peer Supports

Author: Nicole Gallagher, M.Ed., Conroe Independent School District The song that comes to mind when I think of peer tutoring is “With a Little Help from my Friends” by the Beatles. We all need help from our friends from time to time. The use of peer support in my inclusive classroom is truly more beneficial… Read More

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Parent Perspective: You’ve Got a Friend

Author: Cathy Giardina, Stetson & Associates, Inc. What is the most underutilized resource in schools today? PEERS! Peer assistance in schools has been a valid teaching strategy for as long as schools have existed.  Peer programs allow students to help other students with academic and social support throughout the school day.  It takes different forms… Read More

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Resources and Strategies to Promote Peer Supports

Using Peer Tutoring to Facilitate Access This brief defines peer tutoring and provides a brief description of three examples of peer tutoring, including how it promotes access to the general education curriculum and evidence of effectiveness. Peer Support Video Vlip This video "Enhancing School Community Through Peer Support" provides an excellent introduction to establishing formal… Read More

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Peer Support in Inclusive Settings

The current nationwide focus on inclusive supports challenges school systems to use all available resources to provide instruction in the general education setting. We are familiar with in-class supports provided by adults such as co-teaching and support facilitation. However, there are other strategies that are appropriate for students who do not require the level of… Read More

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You’ve Got A Friend

What is the most underutilized resource in schools today?  Peers! Peer assistance in schools has been a valid teaching strategy for as long as schools have existed.  Peer programs allow students to help other students with academic and social support throughout the school day.  It takes different forms ranging from informal programs to structured formal… Read More

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Building Natural Peer Supports

This spotlight topic will provide information and resources about peer- tutoring, peer supports, cross‐age peer tutoring, and peer modeling. Last month we explored advantages of building inclusive school communities and touched on the benefits of utilizing one of the most natural supports available to us: Peers.   This month we will continue with this theme by exploring… Read More