Arcola Elementary School
I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
We are proud that Arcola Elementary School provides a peer mentor program. Our program, Dragon Pals, offers assistance to new students, and also those that may need a little extra help with social interaction or building friendships. Providing this help supports the mission and vision of our school. Arcola's mission is for students to discover the joy of learning as they explore their interest, cultivate enduring relationships with teachers and peers, and embrace challenges. Our school community promotes social responsibility by valuing and honoring the diversity of cultures, views, and talents. Our school vision is to provide students with a high quality education in a safe, supportive, and challenging community that encourages all participants to be life-long learners and responsible citizens of tomorrow.
Dragon Pals matches students in one-on-one relationships to provide guidance in many areas. There are many advantages of peer mentoring for the mentor and the mentee alike. Peer mentoring may help students new to the school adapt to the academic environment faster. The relationship between the mentor and mentee gives the mentee a sense of being connected to the larger community where they may otherwise feel lost. Mentors are chosen because they possess good communication, social, and leadership skills. As a consequence, mentors serve as positive role models for the students, guiding them towards academic and social success. Mentors provide support, advice, encouragement, and even friendship to students. In turn, mentors benefit as they are building their own confidence, self-esteem, and leadership skills.
Mission & Goals:
To promote a smooth and positive transition for new students to Arcola.
To provide opportunities for relationships to develop between students
To increase awareness and acceptance of students with diverse needs
To provide students with more opportunities to feel part of the larger school community.
Increase students’ self-esteem and provide positive role models.
This program will consist of students reading and/or completing projects with their peers. Friends will also get together on an occasional basis to have lunch, recess, and possibly attend school-wide events such as assemblies. Friends will be nominated by teachers. Teachers will nominate three students who display compassion and a strong willingness to help other students.
Dragon Pal Requirements:
-commit to the program for one entire school year-attend an orientation where students will learn what it means to be a peer helper (presented in an age appropriate format).-meet with friends for two or more lunches per month plus scheduled time in the classroom (to be determined by teacher), and possibly accompany student to assemblies or other school-wide functions (such as Girls on the Run and other activities).
-attend an end of the year party with all participating students. All participating students will receive a certificate and acknowledgement of their involvement in the program.
Identifying Peer Helpers:
Mentors will be-
• interested in helping others
• sensitive to other people
• accepting of others
• tolerant of differences• caring
• Counselor referral
• Parent referral
• Teacher or Specialist referral
• Student Self-referralTeaching Staff Resposibilities:
-nominate three students from your classroom
-work with school staff to schedule visits to the classroom and lunchroom and other school-wide events, if applicable
-receiving teachers should assign Dragon Pals to students who maintain a willingness to follow school rules-the goal is to achieve success for both mentor and mentee
Training and activities will vary to address each group’s needs. Goals of the trainings include-• Build on the students’ own natural helping behavior
• Develop mutual trust and group cohesiveness
• Develop self-awareness
• Make students aware of the need for helping skills
• Model and practice the desired helping skills
• Receive feedback on communication skills
• Learn a code of ethics
• Become familiar with program procedures
• Learn a basic model of human behavior
• Be aware of the pitfalls of the program
The trainer/advisor sets the tone for the program. It is important that an atmosphere of warm acceptance be established at the start. The trainer must model the high-level helping skills, ethical behavior, and friendly concern that you want your Dragon Pals to model.
How to Mentor:
-Interact with your buddy on the playground by involving him/her in fun games and activities.
-Try to get your buddy involved with other kids his/her own age.
-Have conversations in which you and your buddy discuss how to get along. Conversation is as important as your play interaction.
-Sometimes your buddy may not feel like playing with you. Respect his or her right to choose.
-Try to think of ways to establish the relationship so that the buddy isn’t withdrawn from you.
-Don’t develop a relationship in which you and your buddy play exclusively with each other.
-Don’t discipline the buddy. If he or she misbehaves, refer the matter to a responsible adult.
Do’s and Don’ts for Peer Helpers:
Do interact with students by engaging them in games and fun activities.
Do follow through on your commitments to the person that needs your help.
Do maintain your own good grades and own relationships.Do reach out and help others become successful.
Do accept people as they are.
Do listen and pay attention.
Do give support and encouragement.
Do realize that not all problems can be solved and that not all people want to be helped.
Do refer serious problems to a professional at school.
Do make yourself available.
Do listen between the lines.
Do act genuine and sincere.
Do respect other people’s need for privacy.
Don’t judge people.
Don’t put people down.
Don’t gossip about what is said during peer helping sessions.
Don’t expect all problems to be solved quickly and easily.Don’t argue.Are you interested in being mentored? Click here for an application.Program adapted from "Tutoring & Mentoring: Starting a Peer Helping Program in Your Elementary School" by Nancy Keim & Cindy Tolliver.