Can you explain what is Peer Helping?
Peer Helpers are trained fourth and fifth grade students that provide tutoring, academic help, friendship, and serve as role models for Dixon Road students. The vision of the program is to provide help to younger student and also give support, acceptance, and leadership roles to the helpers.
This year I strongly encouraged seven students to apply for the program. Five of these students applied and have had a successful beginning to their helping career.
What is the message you express to the peers when the program begins?
Kids they will be helping are just like them, but they’ve fallen behind. These kids have the potential to be great learns; most just need a little extra time, support, encouragement, and practice. All of them have the skills to help bring success and pride to these learners.
What are the Benefits of a Peer Helping Program?
Peers help other students to feel capable, understood, and responsible. Also, peer tutoring is very rewarding to the tutor. As a helper your client successes bring pride to you. All you need is to be polite and patient and listen to client’s needs.
What is required to be considered for a position as a Peer Helper?
Peer Helpers need to be dedicated to their own education, first, to be an effective role model for others. They need to possess enthusiasm, effort, a commitment to assisting others, and a willingness to be a team player.
How often does the group meet and what topics are covered at these meetings?
The peer helpers meet weekly during their lunch time. Helping skills are taught along with supportive techniques for academic and personal achievement.
We also discuss topics that are beneficial to the peer helpers during these meetings. Last year we examined Peer Programs in middle school, high school, college and the work place. We evaluated popular helping professions. Our school psychologist, Bethany Davis, talked to the students about her career. This year, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Olivier Johnson, is scheduled to work with the peer helpers.
How did you evaluate this program?
The teachers at our school gave our peer program a glowing evaluation. I also knew that research shows that peer helping programs have a positive effect on both the assisted student and the peer helpers. So at the end of last year, the first year of this program, the peer helpers completed a program evaluation and I analyzed data to see if service to others was beneficial to our peer helpers. My prediction was that peer helpers would gain self-esteem and a greater connection to their own academic progress. When I compared the peer helpers’ end of year Grade Point Averages for the subjects of reading and math all peer helpers increased these grades.
How can the community help?
I can envision a partnership between our families, the community and peer helpers. It would be amazing to have this partnership host an International or Cultural Fair. Also, a Career Night with parents, neighbors, and community business professionals sharing information about their chosen careers. Hosting a night focusing on reading and storytelling would also be a very fun event.