The relationship between twin siblings is unique. And teaching twins may require educators to add some new tricks to their arsenal!
In honor of National Twins Day (August 5), we polled our Facebook group for their best tips, tricks, and stories about teaching twins. Here’s the advice we received.
Recognize and celebrate their individuality
This was far and away the most common theme in the teachers’ answers. Check out what they had to say about recognizing twins’ individuality.
“Treat them as individuals, and be honest if you struggle to tell them apart. I love having twins in class!”
“Don’t see them as twins—they are their own person and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Allow them to grow and develop in their own way.”
—Chantal Jacqueline Smith
“Remember that even though they are twins, they are individuals. My set of twins had totally different personalities. I had to work hard to help the reserved one shine, while his brother naturally captivated others with his charm and humor. I loved every minute of that year. They are now successful young men. I never got that opportunity again throughout my 30 years of teaching. Enjoy!”
Practical tips and tricks
Here’s some practical advice for when you’re seeing double.
“I have had 2 sets of identical twins that were in the same math class period. I could not tell them apart. When I made seating charts, I would put the twin whose name came first alphabetically on the left side of my classroom and the other on the right side of my classroom so I could call them by the appropriate name.”
—Jessica Ebsen Kendall
“I’ve had 2 sets of twins. Both times, each twin wore a different color scheme than their sibling. Figure out the colors, and prepare to apologize when you get it wrong sometimes.”
“Take extra care to make sure that report card comments are different.”
—Sandy Gates Aldeorrh
“Avoid comparing them or putting them in competitions where it’s twin v. twin. They do enough comparing as it is!”
Should twins be in the same class or separate?
Teachers also shared their opinions on separating or pairing twins at school.
“As an identical twin, I always found it annoying how teachers were always trying to separate us. Ask the twins what they prefer! I’m also a teacher of 27 years now. I’ve had some who wanted to be near each other and some who didn’t want to be in the same class!”
—Karen Murray Byrd
“As a mother of twins and a teacher, please treat them as individuals. The girls were in kindergarten and 1st grade together, and at the end of the year their teacher recommended putting them in different grades for the next school year. Best piece of advice given! Not only were they able to grow as individuals and pursue their own talents, they had different friend groups that managed to all get along when invited to come over to hang out. It was super cool to see their individual accomplishments and to celebrate them each for the person they are!”
“As a mother of identical twins and a middle school teacher, try to refrain from projecting your judgment of separating vs. keeping together in the same class onto the kids. It’s no one’s business or decision except the family’s. ‘You’re in the same class? Fantastic!’ ‘You’re in separate classes? Cool!'”
From a twin’s perspective
Some teachers who happen to be twins themselves weighed in. Their experiences allowed them to offer a unique and valuable perspective!
“… never call them ‘twin’ or ‘twinners.’ That used to drive me crazy!”
“Twin and a teacher here! If you can’t tell them apart, just say so. It’s OK to ask if you’re not sure rather than guess or give them a collective nickname. Individuality is very important in the teen years so don’t compare them. I became a science teacher, and my sister an English teacher. As a twin, you’d think I would be able to tell twins apart, but nope!”
Funny stories about teaching twins
What twin article would be complete without some Parent Trap-esque hijinks?
“I teach a set of twins who are split into different classes. For their speeches, one spoke about the pros of being a twin, and the other one spoke about the cons. It was hilarious, and they were both so convincing.”
—Ellouise Elizabeth Richter
“I had triplets. They were seniors, and on a field trip permission form, mom’s name was signed in 3 different styles!”
—Hedi Fultz Stepp
“I taught identical triplets. They had different class periods, and for April Fool’s Day, two of the three switched out on me during class. And I fell for it! In my defense, this was the ’20-’21 school year when we had to wear masks. Those were some great girls, though.”
—Jessica Lee Cornell
“One year at parent conference time, a mom walked in with her two boys—twins. The English teacher turned to me and said, ‘Well, this explains a lot!’”
Do you have experience teaching twins? Share your experiences and tips with us in the comments!
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