Based on our observation, it seems relatively easier to find research supporting the benefits of peer tutoring than finding information on how to actually get a program started. This article provides a brief overview of how to set up a peer tutoring program at your school . The Peer Tutoring Manual written by retired Oakland Unified School District teachers, Ben Smith and Steven Falk, delves deeper into what is discussed in this article. Most of the ideas presented are applicable in a class-wide peer tutoring program as well.

Assuming you’ve done your research and discovered the many positive outcomes of peer tutoring and are now interested in implementing your own program, the next question you’re probably asking is, where do I begin?

  1. First, it is recommended that you take some time to reflect on your goals and conduct a self-assessment. Why do you want to implement a peer tutoring program and what do you expect to gain from it? Here, you will define your program's goals based on your students’ needs. The most common goals of peer tutoring programs include academic achievement and social maturation.
  2. Determine where and when tutoring will take place and select a model for your program. Peer tutoring programs tend to fall into three main categories that can also be blended to fit your unique needs:

    • The Lab model gathers students in one room for one-to-one tutoring sessions that are monitored by a teacher (coordinator). This model is well suited for a school-wide tutoring program.
    • The Agency model trains tutors and sends them out to the classrooms of teachers interested in using a helping hand.
    • The partnership model is one in which two teachers agree to pair up their classes (usually different grades) where the upper grade class tutors the lower grade students.
  3. Select tutor/tutee pairs based on the desired outcome of your tutoring program. For example, if your goal is improved academic achievement of struggling students, then you’ll likely pair up higher achieving students with those in need of more assistance.
  4. Set up a tutor training program, develop methods of evaluating tutor effectiveness and conduct regular feedback sessions. Plans should be made for monitoring tutee progress as well.
  5. Define the methods that will be used in measuring the success of your peer tutoring program. Tutor feedback sessions, tutee progress assessment and surveys are some ways to track the progress of a peer tutoring program.

During the initial planning phase for a peer tutoring program, you will also spend time engaging the support of your school community (parents included) and explaining the nature of the program to them. Some will readily embrace the idea while others may have concerns that need to be addressed. For example, you may have to address questions such as:

  • Aren’t these tutors losing valuable instruction time? (Interestingly, research has shown that tutors tend to benefit more from peer tutoring than their tutees)
  • Who is watching over these kids? 
  • What research has been done to show this is an effective way to teach children?

The Peer Tutoring Manual offers suggestions on how to address these and other concerns that may be posed to you when trying to gain support for the development of a peer tutoring program. The manual also goes into great detail on the steps mentioned above and comes complete with letters, forms, worksheets and lesson plans for your use.

Visit the peer tutoring resource library for additional resources to help you design your peer tutoring program.

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