The Power Of Peers

Specific Strategies for Supporting Peer Buddies

*Interventions adapted from Carter, Sisco, Macid, Melekoglu, and Kurkowski (2007)

Supporting Your Peer Buddy’s Social Skills in Class
Being social in the classroom can be difficult for any student. Students with disabilities may have an even more difficult time interacting socially and usually benefit from the help of peers! Helping your peer buddy feel comfortable interacting socially in the classroom is one important way to be sure that he or she feels like a part of the class. Supporting your buddy socially goes beyond simply talking to him or her in class. Other ways that you can support your buddy’s social skills in class include teaching or modeling for your buddy how to take turns in a conversation and getting your buddy back “on topic” if he or she strays from the conversation too much.

Providing Feedback to Your Peer Buddy in Class
It feels good to be told that you have gotten an answer correct in class. It can also push you to be a better student if you know what mistakes you have made so that you don’t repeat those mistakes. Ways that you can provide helpful feedback to your peer buddy in class include noticing when he or she has gotten a correct answer in class and saying “good job” or “way to go”. Words of encouragement like this can help let the student know he or she is on track. Even if your buddy gets an answer wrong, it is important to encourage the effort (just as encouragement can be very important for you!) Encouraging responses and class participation can make your buddy feel like he or she is contributing to the class. Helping your peer buddy summarize key points in the lesson or organize his or her notes to emphasize the key points is another important strategy that can really help to learn the class content!

Support Group Participation and Organization
Each student needs to feel like he or she is helping the group. When the teacher puts the class into small groups to work, it is important to help your buddy transition into that group setting. This could involve reminding your buddy to take out the materials needed for the day’s activities and reminding him that it is time for group work. It could also include making sure your peer buddy understands his or her specific role in that activity. You could also encourage your buddy to interact with the other group members throughout the activity. Noting to your buddy the important aspects or ideas from the group’s work will help the student become familiar with how to work effectively in a group. You could also help your buddy do a quick check at the end of the activity to make sure he or she has done everything that was assigned.

Helping Your Buddy Communicate with Other Classmates
While your buddy certainly appreciates all the help you give, you should also work to introduce him or her to the other classmates. You can serve as a “middle-man” who works to create friendships between your buddy and the other students in the class. Ways to do this include actively introducing your peer buddy to others, noticing similar interests or hobbies between your buddy and other students and pointing those out, and telling other classmates what a nice person your buddy is (and his or her other positive qualities!). Also think about the clubs and activities to which you belong –would your peer buddy perhaps be interested in joining one of these? School clubs and activities are very important ways for all of us to broaden our social horizons and make new friends! 


*Ending Activity and Reflection*
After considering each of the above ways to support peer buddies, go back to the table you developed in the beginning of this unit and think about what other supports or information you could add! What new ideas do you have?  Be sure to include those in your final table as part of your assignment for this unit!