Thursday, April 7, 2011

Peer Coaching: Partnerships for Professional Practitioners

Belisle, T. (1999, May). Peer coaching: partnerships for professional practicioners. The ACIE Newsletter, 2(3), Retrieved from

This article, written by a fifth grade teacher in Minnesota, suggests peer coaching as a creative solution for providing on-site staff development. The author shares how schools have the "impossible" task of addressing the many different needs for all of the teachers in a school with only a few possible days to deliver in-service professional development. She points to peer coaching as an effective professional development approach since it incorporates: self directed learning, sustained development of expertise, and collaborative professionalism. As a language immersion teacher, she talks about how peer coaching specifically supports the development of other immersion teachers.

The author outlines a process for developing peer coaches. She explains how peer coaching is intrinsically motivating and renewing in addition to being effective for improving instruction and achievement. She believes the two key components for a successful peer coaching program are commitment and choice. She also suggests for schools to start small and allow participation to grow over time as other staff members how successful and motivating it has been for the pioneers of the program. The author outlines a procedure for launching a peer coaching program in clear steps-- this could be very helpful for schools considering developing a peer coaching program.

Important Quotes:
"It is evident that becoming a highly effective teacher is not the result of a one-time investment, but rather an ever-evolving process... Teachers must see their professional development as an integral part of their ongoing responsibilities."

"Partnerships: Having teachers choose their own partners is much less threatening than assigning partners. Also, many will have reasons for choosing a specific partner (e.g., teaching style, teaching philosophy, expertise in an area, etc.)"

"Have partners establish and commit to the following components of the process. A written contract could be developed so that both partners are clear about the process they have agreed to...
(a) Weekly time for observations and meetings. The teacher being observed determines what she/he wants the partner to look for an comment on. Another option is to videotape a session, and watch the video together. Videotaping can be a valuable tool if used from time to time.
(b) Method for monitoring professional growth and determining impact on student learning. This could be as simple as keeping a teaching journal, reflecting specifically on the issue selected. A more challenging option is to develop pre- and post- tests to evaluate growth.
(c) Number of articles or resources teachers will read dealing with the issue chosen."

"Teachers will learn a great deal from one another while planning instruction, developing materials, observing one another with students, and reflecting on the impact of their teaching on students' learning."

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