This post has been floating around in my head since the first day at my new school this year, however seeing @kaz_phi on Pinterest today prompted me to put my thoughts into action.
On the first day of school for the Foundation students, their week-long swimming program started. Me: “What the actual heck? Are these people (staff) crazy? What a nightmare!”
However, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. Each new Foundation student had been given a buddy. They had met their buddy on the Orientation day last year and had a photo of them to look at over the holidays. On the first day of school, the Year 6 buddies collected the Foundation students and ate recess with them. They were in charge of helping their buddy get changed for swimming and changed again after swimming. This process lasted all week.
On the third day of school was the first whole-school Assembly. The Year 6 students collected their little buddy, walked with them to Assembly, showed them where (and how) to stand in line and then took them to the Year 6 classroom afterwards to show them where they do their learning.
At the end of Week 3, I noticed a few key things:
-Foundation students rarely approached a yard duty teacher if they had a problem in the playground – their first port of call was their buddy, or another Year 6.
-The culture and atmosphere at the Swimming Carnival was incredible and took a lot of weight from the teachers shoulders, as Year 6 buddies ran and helped organise events for the Foundation-2 students.
-The Year 6 students love to spend every moment possible with their buddy.
True, it’s a small school with only about 100 primary students & 50 students in Year 7-10. Yes, all of the Primary students have the same area to play in, at the same time. There is also a dedicated ‘buddy’ program on a Friday afternoon in every class, run by the school chaplaincy workers.
But the credit must go to the Foundation and Year 6 teacher…who investigate ways to support and nurture these new relationships to bring the buddy program to such a high level of success. I have never seen such a strong bond between buddies! In my previous job, it seemed such a hassle to organise a buddy time in the crowded weekly timetable…and then who would organise an activity…and run it…and what would the educational outcome be?
Does your school have a buddy program? Structured or unstructured? Successful or unsuccessful?