This post is in response to TDSiG request to share teacher development success stories as part of their 2018 Web Carnival. In my experience, one of the most successful and useful TD activities we do where I teach are peer observations. In this post, I would like to explain why.
1: Quick and easy tricks
The most obvious reason is that it is easy to learn and immediately put into practice ideas from peer lessons. This does not only mean lesson ideas or activities, but also — and most importantly — classroom management strategies, board work, ways to build rapport.
These are the things that are usually neglected (or given a back seat) in teacher training, yet they are so important in creating a positive classroom environment that is conductive of learning.
2: An outside look
Peer observations are the only opportunity to relax, seat back and enjoy lessons as an observer, especially if — like myself — you are not a teacher trainer. They provide a unique angle from which to observe a lesson, as the observer is not evaluating the teacher.
Instead, you can observe student reactions to different techniques, see from the outside what a certain activity feels like and form a more complete picture of what a lesson looks like from the outside.
From the observed teacher point of view, peer observations take away the pressure of being evaluated, and once again provide a different look on the lesson.
As a NNEST and a person who tends to under-estimate herself, I find that peer observations greatly help my self-confidence. Seeing that more experienced colleagues do things the same way I do makes me feel more confident about my teaching skills. Observing students feedback to such practices also reinforces my beliefs and practices, or helps me understand what works and what doesn’t in my own practice.
In conclusion, I can say that there are many arguments in favour of this simple yet incredibly useful CPD practice, and — from a teacher point of view — I would strongly recommend any DoS or school director to implement it as part of their teachers development strategy.