Improving one’s professional practice requires reflection and change. Teachers can carry out some of this on their own, but most need peer feedback to progress. Inviting a colleague to observe and comment on specific learning goals and student learning outcomes can make this process a little less daunting.
Here is an example peer feedback checklist that I sometimes use:
Example Teacher-to-teacher Lesson Feedback Criteria
1. Clear student learning goal posted (I am learning to…so that I can…)
2. Body of the lesson is coherent and reflects the lesson’s learning goal
3. Relevant content and examples from real life that engage students
4. Visual aids and technology that support and augment the learning goal
5. Delivery is audible, clear and teacher maintains eye-contact
6. Conclusion of lesson summarizes key concepts/learning goal
The Ontario College of Teacher’s 2012 Ontario College of Teachers’ “Foundations of Professional Practice,” states that, “collaborative learning communities may be formed to inquire into student learning, select instructional materials, participate in peer coaching, pilot new initiatives or share ideas and resources.”
The University of Sidney’s “Teaching and Learning Program” offers several helpful suggestions for teachers who seeking peer participation in their professional development.
Select a colleague whose input you value and with whom you feel comfortable.
Agree that the observation and discussion are to remain confidential.
Meet with your colleague beforehand to clarify the purpose and process of the observation. In most cases it is not the intention to have your colleague assess or evaluate your teaching against their own practice or criteria but instead to provide you with additional data for your own reflection and evaluation. Avoiding personal ‘judgement’ will encourage provision of objective feedback data and promote critical reflection. Experience with peer observation of teaching suggests that an agreed understanding as to the role of the observer is essential.
You may choose to ask your colleague to observe only particular features of the class, for example strategies to promote student interaction. In many cases it is useful to explain to your colleague what your intended student learning outcomes are for the class and to use these goals as the basis for your discussion.
Observation may be supported by using a prepared observation schedule or checklist. Audio or video recordings of the session are also useful in supporting subsequent reflection. Be aware that the process of observation and recording may well affect the behaviour of your students and yourself.
The feedback and discussion subsequent to the observation are often best initiated by giving your own observations and reflections on the class, before inviting the observer to contribute additional data and then jointly exploring any issues that arise. Ideally the discussion may lead to a consideration of possible strategies to further improve teaching and learning. You may find it useful to document the issues raised during the discussion together with actions or initiatives that are proposed to address such issues. Evidence of such reflection and subsequent action to improve teaching can usefully support claims of quality teaching.
It may be useful to arrange a follow up classroom visit or meeting at a later date to consider the impact of any teaching initiatives that arise from the discussion. Staff often report that establishing a reciprocal peer observation agreement facilitates discussion.