As part of our Advanced Instructional Strategies class this quarter we have been randomly paired with a peer from the opposite cohort to observe and be observed by during our School Overnight Program teaching week. To begin with, this peer-to-peer coaching will help me practice being a part of a professional learning community in which I am exchanging ideas and growing as an instructor with the assistance of a peer-coach. Furthermore, through my peer observations I will be able to connect to what I am observing and expand upon my own understanding of what effective teaching might look like in my own practice. What are the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that I might gain from this practice?
The most obvious thing that comes to mind when considering what knowledge will be gained from this peer relationship is that I will witness the cross-cutting of knowledge and concepts in new ways. For example, I recently observed my peer partner deliver a review of ecosystems and how they might relate to their team in a community agreement. The students were drawing connections between relationships in ecosystems to relationships found in cultural communities. It’s seeing content through novel activities and drawing inspiration from creative connections such as the one I saw my peer partner use that makes peer observing a key part of AIS this quarter.
What skills if any do I hope to gain from peer observing? After exchanging Professional Growth Plans, or PGPs, with my partner I feel confident that I will be able to convey to my peer partner the skill areas in which I want to improve. While reading “Teach Like a Champion,” by Doug Lemov, I have come across several succinct techniques that can be used during the School Overnight Program. As I have already told my peer partner, I am particularly interested in gathering evidence and/or artifacts of learning throughout the week and using more “Check For Understanding” techniques. By having a common language, in that we both are reading TLAC at the same time, it will be an opportunity to work together to incorporate these techniques into our practice.
Lastly, what dispositions might I develop during my peer partner relationship? My peer partner and I are both working on the same disposition this quarter– being organized and dependable. Because we both struggle in this area, it will allow us to support one another in this particular endeavor. We are both open to suggestions and interested in exchanging ideas before and after our peer observations, which will likely make working on this disposition together more productive.
We are only just beginning our peer-to-peer coaching this quarter. I have only observed my peer once, and will be observed for the first time this week. My current plan is for my peer partner to catch me using CFUs effectively during an introduction. By having a peer to observe and be observed by we will be practicing transparency and vulnerability, which will hopefully allow us to grow as educators.