Peer Coaching

As schools move forward with building teacher capacity in preparation for the Common Core Standards, peer coaching is one professional development model that should be considered. Below is a quick synopsis of peer coaching taken from the ASCD website.

What Is Peer Coaching?
Peer coaching is a professional development strategy for educators to consult with one another, to discuss and share teaching practices, to observe one another’s classrooms, to promote collegiality and support, and to help ensure quality teaching for all students.
In peer coaching, usually two teachers (though sometimes three or more) come together, share in conversations, and reflect on and refine their practice. Their relationship is built on confidentiality and trust in a non-threatening, secure environment in which they learn and grow together; therefore, peer coaching is usually not part of an evaluative system.

Why Use Peer Coaching?
Peer Coaching is a job-embedded, ongoing professional method of support. Peer coaching is effective for the following reasons:
It allows teachers to work together professionally, thereby eliminating feelings of isolation.
• It encourages reflection and analysis of teaching practice.
• It promotes specific feedback over time.
• It fosters collaboration among teachers throughout the school building.
As a result, teachers experience positive changes in their teaching practice.

How Will We Get Started?
Setting up and implementing peer coaching is not hard. To begin, pairs or teams of teachers must have time to meet, research, and collaborate. Teachers also need time in their class schedules to observe their peers during the school day. Selecting coaching partners can be a sensitive issue—some programs encourage self-selection, whereas others recommend a more structured approach. Trust between and among peers is an essential component. Because most coaching and review strategies involve some form of classroom observation, teachers need both a preconference, in which they meet to discuss the lesson purpose, the classroom dynamics, and what to look for during the observation; and a post-conference, in which they review the lesson, model new strategies, and collaborate on improvement. The success of peer coaching often depends on the environment of the school. Is there a climate of collegiality? Do teachers feel comfortable taking risks and asking for help? Is there ongoing staff development to encourage and model peer coaching? What is the administration’s role? These questions must be addressed throughout the process of implementing peer coaching.

Other Resources on Peer Coaching and Peer Review
• Peer Assistance and Peer Review: An AFT/NEA Handbook, by the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, 1998, Washington, DC: Author.
• Peer Coaching for Educators, by B. Gottesman, 2000, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.
• “Peer Review of Teaching: New Roles for Faculty,” by P. Hutchins, AAHE Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 3, 1994, pp. 3-7.
• “The Coaching of Teaching,” by B. Joyce & B. Showers, Educational Leadership, Vol. 40, No. 1, October 1982, pp. 4-10.
• “Peer Assistance and Peer Review,” R. K. Rogers & D. Threatt, Thrust for Educational Leadership, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2000, pp. 14-16.

About Anitra Butler

Ms. Butler received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bowie State University, a Master’s degree in Reading Instruction from Bowie State University, and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Bilingual Special Education from The George Washington University. She has also finished her third Master's degree in Instructional Design for Online Learning at Capella University. Ms. Butler plans to pursue doctoral studies in Language, Literacy, and Culture. Her research interests include comparative education visual literacy, sociolinguistics, and participatory program evaluation.
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