SIS News Archive
Recently, teachers at the elementary school used peer coaching as a tool in their professional development. Throughout the school year and summer, SIS teachers stay up to date through extended professional learning. Many of our teachers are also involved with master's degree programs and some are also working toward their PHDs.
What is peer coaching?
Peer coaching is a way for teachers to share expertise and support each other in developing professional practice. Peer coaching can take the form of a more experienced teacher demonstrating a lesson or teaching technique for observers, or a teacher asking a colleague to come and observe his/her lesson to give feedback in a specific area. In second grade we decided to make peer coaching one of our professional goals for the year.
Why peer coaching?
In second grade we chose peer coaching as our professional goal for the year, using the Columbia University reading and writing workshop as our focus area.
How did we use peer coaching?
As returning teachers experienced with second grade and the workshop model, we felt the best way to begin peer coaching was to lead demonstration lessons for colleagues. During the demonstration lesson in my classroom, the other expert teacher sat with our colleagues and pointed out the different components of the lesson. After the lesson, we met to reflect on how the lesson went. Our colleagues were able to ask questions they had about my lesson, give feedback about what they noticed, and make plans for what they would like to try in their own classrooms.
Our next step in peer coaching is to observe our colleagues as they lead a lesson in reading or writing workshop. We will work together to the plan the lesson, make the observation, and offer feedback for continuing development.
Who benefits from peer coaching?
There are benefits to the demonstrator and the observer during peer coaching. The demonstrator benefits by being reminded of best practice, and by getting feedback from observes on how the lesson went, as it can be difficult to gauge the impact of a lesson on all students. Observers benefit by seeing words put into action. Grade level teams meet regularly to discuss and review units, but there is something extremely valuable in being able to see how those plans are put into action. An additional benefit of peer coaching is the sense of camaraderie we felt after completing our peer coaching sessions. Teachers take a risk by participating in peer coaching. It takes self-awareness and courage to say you need help with something, and it can be nerve-wracking to be observed by others while teaching. Having taken this leap together, we feel secure in sharing our successes and failures, so we can continue to support each other in our professional learning.
Submitted by Marla Robertson-Jones, Grade 2 Teacher