Thursday, April 7, 2011

Peer Coaching for Improvement of Teaching and Learning

Becker, J.M. (2010, March 3). Peer coaching for improvement of teaching and learning. Retrieved from

The author asserts that ongoing learning by teachers is the key to increasing student achievement and educators need to be responsible for weaving continuous development into their practice. They point to a report developed by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future that drafted five recommendations for the future of education. These were: (1) get serious about standards, for both students and teachers, (2) reinvent teacher preparation and professional development, (3) overhaul teacher recruitment and put qualified teachers in every classroom, (4) encourage and reward teaching knowledge and skill and (5) create schools that are organized for teacher and student success. The authors focus on Peer Coaching as a tool and model of professional development that has the potential to improve teaching practices and student achievement. They define peer coaching as a "process in which two or more professional colleagues work together for a specific, predetermined purpose in order that teaching performance can be improved as well as validated. The purpose may be to reflect on current practices or to expand, to refine, and build new skills. Peer coaching can be utilized to share new ideas; to teach one another; to conduct classroom observations; or to solve problems in the workplace."

The author shows how peer coaching can have a positive impact on teacher's likelihood to transfer new skills into their practice. Only 5% of teachers will do this as a result of theory. When theory is combined with demonstration, 10% of teachers will transfer the new skills. If practice is added to the theory and demonstration, the likelihood of transfer jumps to 20%. With training and feedback along with theory, demonstration and practice, 25% of teachers will transfer the new learning. Finally, when there is theory, demonstration, practice, training, feedback AND coaching, 90% of teachers will transfer their new skill into practice. This data alone makes a strong case for schools creating an environment for all of these things to happen for their teachers.

The website goes on to provide a list of benefits of peer coaching including: improved student achievement, increased ability to analyze their own lessons, deeper sense of efficacy, better articulated curriculum, and more cohesive and positive school culture and climate. The website also provides a list of supports that need to be in place in order for a school to create peer coaching processes. The author closes by arguing that schools need to include peer coaching as an important part of their professional development programming.

Important Quotes:

"The improvement of teaching practices has traditionally been left to individual teachers working in isolation... To improve professional practices, and consequently to improve student learning, teachers need accessible opportunities and models for collaboration, sharing of ideas, feedback and assistance with their practice so that students may have the most optimal situations for learning, achievement, and success in schools."

"In order for peer coaching to meet the intended purposes and realize the many benefits, specific policy components need to be in place. Peer coaching must be recognized as a legitimate and useful form of ongoing professional development. Teachers need to receive release time, pay and credit to participate in a coaching program."

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