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Teachers as Learners: How Peer Mentoring Can Improve Teaching

By Eric Gidseg

Peer observations often provide insights that are quite painful to hear but which can improve our teaching. I learned this the hard way.

In my class of 21 kindergartners, there was a child whom I felt was unreachable in the context of whole class or group activities. I asked the team to help me out.

I use a large group setting, what I call my morning circle, as the primary teaching modality in my classroom. After the large group, the children go to "center" activities which provide an opportunity for practice and exploration. Since this child was apparently getting little from our morning circle, her entire morning was affected. She moved through centers with little understanding or direction.

As we sat together on the rug each day to hear stories and discuss current explorations, this little girl (whom I will call Jennifer), often sat on the periphery. She would look down at her hands and generally appeared lost in her own inner world.

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