A Peer Observation and Debriefing
You may want to try a peer observation and debriefing, either individually
(with one or two colleagues) or with a group of colleagues interested in
developing a professional collaboration. Because the value and success of
this activity will be enhanced if all participants are knowledgable and
well prepared, you are urged to consult several of the items listed in the
Resources section and to discuss them together before you begin. It will be
important to have consensus about the purpose and limitations of this
Important note: This activity will require careful preparation as well as
a specific commitment from the participants to nurture each other's
teaching over an extended period of time.
1. Select, as a group or individually, a student learning goal or a
common inquiry question.
Choose a question that is relevant to your own practice and school context.
At Pasadena High School, one CFG has selected the common inquiry question:
How do students use evidence? Other focusing questions might be: How is a
particular learning objective being met? How are students interacting with
one another in groups?
2. Set up Peer Observation Guidelines.
In developing norms, consider questions such as What should observers look
for? and How will they give to the teacher observed feedback? The teachers
at Pasadena observe and debrief in triads - two observers and one teacher
being observed. They use standards of professional practice as background
to an individual teacher's focusing question. The guidelines developed by
the Pasadena CFG appear below. You may want to set different
norms appropriate to your school context and previous experience with peer
3. Arrange for two colleagues to observe your classroom and to debrief
their observations with you, following your agreed-upon Peer Observation
|GUIDELINES FOR PEER OBSERVATION|
(as developed by the Pasadena High School CFG)
1.Observations may be across subject areas or within similar subject areas.|
2. Two peers will be the observers
3. the teacher being observed will:
4. The observers will:
- a. contact the 2 teachers to set up the observation;
- b. establish the focus or questions for the observation by providing observers with support material such as written questions or the lesson plan;
- c. determine the process used in the post-observation debrief;
- d. set the time for the debrief session which should take place wihtin 24 hours of the observation.
5. Three kinds of processes, which the teacher being observed might
use to strucutre the debrief, are:
- a. take notes during the observation;
- b. provide feedback which focuses on the questions provided by
the teacher being observed;
- c. give the observation notes to the teacher being observed.
6. The key to all successful observations is that feedback focuses on
the concerns, issues, or questions identified by the teacher being observed.
- a. the teacher observed begins by reflecting on the lesson and
the peer observers first respond to their colleagues reflections before
giving the feedback;
- b. the observers provide an overall impression and then give
specifics on the questions of the teacher being observed; and
- c. the observers immediately give specifics of the observation.
- a. Select samples of work from the lesson that was observed.
- b. Think about how you'd like to adapt your teaching
strategies based on the feedback from the observation. In a later class,
make an effort to incorporate these changes in your practice.
- c. Select samples of work from a later lesson that reflects
your thinking and adaptation of practice based on the feedback received.
- d. Meet with colleagues (the same group you met with before)
and, using an established protocol or any other process you want, compare
the samples of work from the lesson observed and the lesson after you had
made changes in your practice based on the observation. Framing questions
like these are helpful:
- How did the feedback I received change my thinking and teaching?
- What were the results of this change?
- What effect did the change have on student achievement in relation
to my student learning goal?