The following notes are taken from Bill McCarthy’s article in the May, 2015 issue of District Administration. You can read it online. Bill McCarthy is the assistant head of Lower School at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City.
- Based on Knight’s seminal work Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction, we adopted the term “peer coaching” for the work we would do and agreed that we had a powerful learning opportunity.
- “Peer” meant that we would aim for a greater sense of equality and reciprocity—two of the essential values that Knight highlighted as “must haves” within a coaching relationship.
- Each faculty member chose a partner as well as a coaching framework. For example, some participants chose to videotape one another, have time for self-reflection, and then allot time for constructive feedback from their peer coach.
- Other participants preferred to have their partner observe their work and then provide feedback.
- The most effective peer coaching framework was one that allowed sufficient time for self-reflection and then consistent follow-up and ongoing exploration with a partner.
- In our first meetings with teachers, we all agreed that engagement was our first priority for the peer coaching relationship. A clear definition of the roles also takes place within the first few sessions, so expectations are clear and detailed. A large emphasis on engaging in relational work and greater self-reflection constitutes much of the ongoing professional development.
- One of the essential components to good teaching is being a lifelong learner. The peer coaching process allows teachers to reflect on key aspects of their practice and create attainable goals for improvement.
- Another important component of peer coaching is the development of a process that’s parallel to the one in which teachers are engaging with students.