Choosing a Direction
One of the most important things about starting up a project is finding out who’s going to be involved.
Then you need to figure out how often you’re going to visit.
After that, it’s about what kind of results you are looking for.
Lynda Brown – Grade 5 Teacher
Pairing Students and Seniors
After deciding on the general direction of the project, one of the next issues to deal with is the pairing of students and seniors. At this point you will have a list of recruited seniors who are willing and able to be involved. They will have a certain ease of relating, will enjoy young people and have an understanding of both the limitations and abilities of these young people. The next step is to pair each of these wonderful seniors with the students.
When creating the pairings, the ratio of senior to students can vary. For example, you might decide to have one senior meeting with two students; or perhaps three students or four students meeting with a senior at one time. Alternatively, two seniors could make a pair, meeting with a small group of students. It should be noted that pairing a senior with a larger group of students (e.g. 4) can help the shy members of the student group learn to relate more easily. A larger number of students can also be helpful when dealing with students who miss visits. A larger number of students does make the interactions less personal however. So there are positives and negatives to different scenarios. As an additional possibility, students of different ages can be paired together with a senior.Be sure to take into consideration the age, maturity, sociability and academic abilities of your students when making group decisions. It is likewise important to think about how your senior participants want to engage.
I think if you have an opportunity to get to know the seniors in advance, you could pair a senior with a student who has a similar kind of personality or a common interest. But at the same time, if you don’t have that opportunity, a real-world life skill is getting to know people who are different than you, and building relationships with them – that’s really important as well. Tim Buchan – Grade 5/6 Teacher