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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

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A Guide for Building Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

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ISN Partner: The Nora Project

The Nora Project‘s mission is to teach empathy by sparking friendships between students and their peers with disabilities. Why it Matters Creating supportive communities for people with disabilities (now and for the future) starts with teaching today’s generation empathy—a practice that will benefit them in all aspects of their lives. Without the opportunity to learn… Read more

Peers Supporting an Inclusive School Climate

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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

Planning and Implementing Peer Support Systems

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Leadership Connection: Building Natural Supports

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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

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

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

Building Natural Peer Supports

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 may actually create more dependency vs. independence… Read more