During math period one morning, my third graders were working on solving a division problem with repeated subtraction. After spending time discussing the strategy and how to work through a problem, I let them know they would have a chance to work with a partner to solve equations.
The noisy room went silent. I saw my students begin to exchange knowing glances with each other, gesturing and smiling to indicate whom they wanted to work with. Francine was slowly making her way towards Olive, Daniel grabbed Roman’s hand and out of the corner of my eye, Roberta placed a hand on the shoulder of Amber. I felt as though I were in the middle of a charades game! When I told them to get their materials and find their partner, they completed the task within a minute. As the class worked in their pairs, I observed and noticed that they had all chosen to work with their best friend. Most were having academic discussions and working cooperatively. I realized that there were no behavior issues. Later in the day, I gave them the choice to work in pairs during our writing block. The goal was for each student to edit the writing piece of a peer. Once again, the class moved quickly to work with a partner. The groups were identical to the ones from earlier.
Later that week, I walked into the library for our staff development meeting. After grabbing a snack from the sign in table, I found my best teacher friend, Dawn, and took a seat next to her. We met and bonded quickly when she became the counselor for our campus three years ago. We have many similarities and always find time to participate in self care together on random weekends.I can always count on her to let me vent when I am having a rough day. I bring her chocolate when she is struggling. She brings me coffee on days I seem to need it most. We always sign up to do “Twin Day” together and love to share success stories about our students. I am grateful to have her as a coworker and best friend. We chatted until our principal began to speak. When breaking out into groups, I stayed at the table with Dawn to complete our task. As we worked, I found myself relaxed and able to focus. When the meeting ended, I felt that my time spent had been productive and enjoyable, versus leaving exhausted and annoyed.
This got me thinking…….
Why is a best friend so powerful?
The benefits of having a best friend in the workplace are the following:
-high job satisfaction
-ability to problem solve
-production of higher quality work
What about in the classroom?
Educators know the pros and cons of allowing students to work with a best friend. There are differing opinions on the topic, and I believe it boils down to experience and the dynamic of your classroom.
I decided to do an experiment: observe the benefits of students working with their best friend for two weeks. I was curious to see the results!
Through conversations and observation, I noticed the following:
-less behavior issues
-high engagement with all subject areas
-accepting of feedback
-zero behavior referrals
-positive feedback from parents and students
-high quality of work
-assessments reflected growth
I plan to continue this experiment longer and study the long term effects of allowing them to work with their best friend in class. I imagine social, emotional and academic growth individually and as a whole.
I’m curious to know; who is your best friend at work?