Peer tutoring accomplishes two critical tasks that contribute to feelings of classroom belonging. First, it empowers students by formalizing their roles as knowledge creators. Second, it builds stronger connections between students as they tackle difficult concepts together.
Establishing a peer mentor/tutor system explicitly demonstrates trust in students’ mastery of material and their ability to explain that material clearly. In other words, it privileges students’ knowledge of both the material and of their peers, thereby affirming their membership in the classroom community. It also has the added benefit of allowing for far greater differentiation of instruction than a teacher could manage on their own.
The one-on-one relationship between a tutor and tutee has benefits for both students. As discussed above, the tutor feels empowered and also further clarifies their understanding of the material. The tutee gains new knowledge, yes, but also the positive emotions that accompany being seen and understood.
This toolkit outlines the steps to prepare students to participate in a peer tutoring model. It includes important considerations such as training for tutors, structure and desired outcomes of the tutoring model, grouping and assignment, and digital tools. It also contains a link to a more substantive peer tutoring guide based on the AVID model.
It may be useful to start small and identify simple ways to get students to support each others’ learning, but the level of intentionality found in this resource is an important component of implementing effective peer tutoring systems.