Peer Tutoring – 5 Teaching Strategies

Peer Tutoring

5 Teaching Strategies to Master

Peer Tutoring - Relief Teaching strategy

Peer Tutoring is one of those fabulous teaching strategies to support TOTAL MASTERY of a concept and support active student engagement.

It is also a great relief teaching tool to maximise student engagement.

But you HAVE to do it the correct way or this could be one of your MESSY teaching strategies.

But if you use these 5 teaching strategies, peer tutoring could become one of your favourites.

Setting the Peer Tutoring Context.

You are relief teaching and you have a group of students of differing ability and student engagement.

In fact this will probably describe every class you encounter on your relief teaching gigs.

Ok. So you have a skill to teach and only half he class "gets it"

If you are like me - BEEN there - DONE that!

So, your options are

  • reteach the skill, which means the kids who understand the concept have to go through it all again. That is not going to do much for the student engagement of your more capable students, but they are usually you better behaved students and will probably sit quietly for you anyway. Gosh - we have all done that before.
  • set the kids who understand the skill extra work and reteach the kids who don't. You can maximise  student engagement if the work for the better students is interesting and extends the, If not, well you could turn your better students into your ratbags as they lose focus.
  • or use one of my favourite teaching strategies -  Peer Tutoring

These sub teaching strategies will enable you to master Peer Tutoring in your class and you might find that, like me, Peer Tutoring becomes a regular feature of all your relief teaching gigs.

Strategy 1 - Create Peer Tutoring mastery teams.

To use Peer Tutoring effectively, you must establish mastery teams.

These are teams which have at least one mentor who has the skills to help others improve their mastery.

When relief teaching, I discuss the concept of total mastery with the students.

Total mastery is when the kids total understand the skill (or concept) and know how to apply it.

When we come to a critical juncture in the lesson, I ask the kids to score their mastery.

For example, say I was teaching a skill that requires students to convert a vulgar fraction to a percent.

I teach it and test it. I then ask the kids to give themselves a score out of 10 for mastery – 10 being total mastery, 1 being NO mastery - YET!

I then create . Peer Tutoring mastery groups

I assign groups with at least one 8, 9 or 10, a few 1,2 or 3, and a few 4 – 7.

Strategy 2 - Keep the Peer Tutoring groups small.

For peer tutoring to be effective mastery teams should be small.

A maximum of 6.

Any more than 6 and the groups can sometimes become unruly.

Don’t forget some of the 1,2 or 3s can also be some of the trouble makers.

Strategy 3 - Make the TASK perfectly CLEAR

This is critical. The task must be a simple one step procedure.

It really should model you teaching goal but must focus on one small achievable objective.

Don’t tackle DISCOUNT until everyone has mastered working with percentage.

Peer Tutoring and Relief Teaching Strategies

Strategy 4 - Move the Peer Tutoring Groups away from each other

There is still behaviour management to consider.

While I have found kids will work quite well when they have a single focus, there is still a bit of working noise.

You still have to work to maximise student engagement. Mentors can not be responsible for behaviour management by themselves.

Kids still nee to be on task.

I allow my groups to leave their chairs and move to the floor in some area of the room but away from other groups.

I also allow mentors to select the area they wish to work and some do choose to remain at their desks.

Strategy 5 -  Don’t make Peer Tutoring competitive.

I tried that once and added up the groups score on post tests to get a winning group.


I won’t do that again.

The kids who bombed out and couldn't master the skills after peer tutoring were castigated by the group and the mentor.


Peer Tutoring won't always solve all problems.

Make the goal of the activity Complete Mastery. The purpose is for every child to master the concept.

They value of peer tutoring has been well documented.

Both the mentor and the students get great value out of this simple relief teaching strategy.

If you want to master a skill


If you REALLY want to master a skill


And that is what makes Peer Tutoring such a fabulous option.


You might also like

5 Killer Tips for Peer Tutoring

Peer Tutoring in the Primary Reading Classroom

The Highly Engaged Classroom (Classroom Strategies)

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