The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Learning Buddies v5.0

It started as a project between two new teachers who had been hired a very short time before school started. He brought his fourth graders to her second grade room. It continued as an effort to enhance literacy skills as he brought his fourth graders to her first graders. (Another first grade class was also involved.) Year three saw a continuation of fourth graders reading with first graders and then a happy mistake happened. A wonderful parent was updating a bulletin board and switched two of the root words on the caption, changing it from “Reading Buddies Help Us Learn!” to “Learning Buddies Help Us Read!” And so it was that year four saw his fourth graders visiting her first graders to do projects in social studies, science, math, and, yes, still literacy.

And then came year five. Both of them are now considered veteran teachers with four years of experience and tenure status. He is still teaching fourth graders, many of whom were in her class that second year. She is now teaching kindergarten. Many things will stay the same, but many things will need to change. The duration of projects, the length of visits, the expected level of independence for the students as they work together. But they will persevere, as will their students. They will cooperate, as will their students. They will show respect and compassion, as will their students. They will demonstrate integrity, as will their students. They will take their responsibility as teachers and learning partners seriously, just as their students will take their responsibility as students and learning buddies seriously.

And they will have a lot of fun, too.

Like today, when Miss C read Where the Wild Things Are and the students joined in with Max’s terrible roars as they showed their terrible claws.

Like today, when Mister V put on a Princess Sofia the First crown and wore it in the classroom and as they walked down the hall.

Yes, learning buddies is serious business, but it is also fun and exciting and so incredibly inspiring. I cannot wait for the day a fourth grader coaches a kindergartener through her first independent reading experience. When a kindergartener tells his mom all about his fourth grade buddy who helped him write a complete sentence. When our fifty students come together and learn about national holidays and celebrations and community.

Because that’s what learning buddies is all about really.

Community.

It is going to be a good year for our learning buddies and I have a hunch our entire community is going to be better because of it.

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