Little Leaders – Cooperative Learning

I have been teaching Severe Special needs for a decade. I know that this is not long in comparison to many other educators but today, while sitting in class after having gone through and with my students I gave them some individual practice. As the students set off to work one of my students asked if he could work with another peer. Since we have been doing a significant amount of work in relation to Cooperative Learning, I said “sure why not”, then anther pair of peers asked the same question, thinking noting of it I gave the same response.

As I was busily working with another student, I noticed that the class was unusually quiet, which in my setting is generally not a good thing. I quickly turned to check out my working pairs. This is what I saw.

I am sure that many who are looking at this are wondering – { OK, so what is so interesting or exciting about this? }

As I said my class is made up entirely of students with behavioral issues, as well as psychological and educational. For many of them the ability to get along with peers in any setting without becoming verbally or physically aggressive, to sit with each other with out arguing or teasing or to sit beside each other without becoming competitive and negative is a struggle. However as you can see I have one peer helping another. While on the other side of the picture I have one peer patiently waiting for another to complete something. I am not saying that my students have met their behavioral goals, but they are progressing very nicely.

Reflecting on what was happening and how the kids are growing, I came to some realizations. First, this is probably the earliest I have ever had the students work together on an activity, but more importantly the students wanted to work together. Second,  through our class activities relating to “The Leader in Me” and “Cooperative Learning” the students have transitioned to learning from and asking for help from me to working with and learning from each other. As well, that this transition in interdependence directly creates change in their behaviors and relationships with each other. Lastly, and what is most important to me, my students are learning to trust each other, to rely on each other to work together – my students are growing and not because of me, because of our entire class.

I guess breaking it down, I am really proud of my kids in terms of their growth in Leadership and Cooperation.

Thanks Georgefor the ideas.


8 thoughts on “Little Leaders – Cooperative Learning

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing this! I think working cooperatively is a goal we should all strive for! I am impressed with the students taking turns. They must have an awesome teacher:) Thanks again for sharing this. It gives me even more inspiration to continue having my students work in groups or with buddies!

    • Kelly, thanks so much for the comment and even more so for the compliment. I am very excited about the progress the kids are making. The motivation and inspiration I get from PLN members and friends like you keep me excited.

      Thanks again for everything.

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  3. What a great post, Shawn! Wow! This is definitely something to celebrate. This shows the tremendous value in everything you’ve been doing. I’ve been using a lot of your ideas and George’s ideas to develop more leadership skills in my students, and I love reading of these success stories to continue to inspire me to try something new too.


    • Thanks Aviva, as always I love hearing from you and reading your inspirational words. You are doing some amazing things in your class and the help that you have given me when I have asked for assistance has been invaluable.

      Thanks again or all your help and compliments.

  4. Shawn! This is great! I can appreciate that feeling of apprehension when a class of students with severe behaviours goes quiet! Make sure you remember this and put it in your “teaching bank” of special moments! You should feel proud of yourself for giving each of your students the opportunity to be leaders and show this cooperation. Students with their kind of backgrounds have not had people believe in them enough to foster trust. You created the safe environment for this to happen! Awesome!

    • Kales – it has been a while, so great to hear from you. Coming from you and your back ground, you know this is a great compliment. No worries about the memories, it will be one of those that I pull out every so often and share.

      You an I share a very similar passion when it comes to teaching this specific client group, and I know that you and I will share our experiences, struggles and successes for years to come. I am very proud of them, as I know you are also proud of them.

      Thank you again so very much for commenting and the compliment. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  5. Pingback: I Choose Love ~ Shawn Gallaway | Enjoy the power of life

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