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Peer Coaching Reflection

Robbins (1991) explains that peer coaching focuses on growing through working

together, improving practices, and exchanging valuable knowledge. Peer coaching creates a

relationship for professionals to grow in collaboration with a partner or in a group structure. The

exchange of ideas creates a safe environment for coaches and their peers to try something

new, make mistakes, review, revise and overall learn through conversation and experiences.

The school where I am currently teaching mixes many different types of peer coaching.

The informal types we have used include curriculum development and problem solving. One

formal type of peer coaching that happens at our school is coaching as a collaborator and as a

mentor (Robbins, 1991). We have deans at our school that observe our teaching every few

weeks. At the beginning of each year we set out personal goals that we would like to focus on

throughout the year. The focus meetings that Grimm, Kaufman, & Doty (2014) describe in

their teacher-driven protocols are similar to our schools O3 (one-on-one) meetings. During

observations, deans come into classrooms and take notes on instruction and classroom culture.

They record observations, highlight instances of student learning during the lesson, and also

areas where teachers can improve their practices. O3s are the stage of debriefing where

deans discuss the teaching that happened and other observations made (Grimm, Kaufman, &,

Doty, 2014).

From my last evaluation an area I would like to improve on is making sure that my

students understand the purpose and reasonings for each lesson I teach them. Following

Grimm, Kauman, & Dotys (2014) teacher-driven observation protocols, I was the inviting

teacher looking for feedback from my Dean to help in creating a purposeful learning

environment. My goal is for students to communicate understanding of what they are learning.

If students understand what they are learning, then they should be able to genuinely articulate

their learnings and the reason for the lesson. After our coaching sessions I hoped that sharing

the purpose will be natural for me and expected by the students


After my last observation my dean and I had a discussion of ways to integrate the I can

statements in my lesson. I can statements are focused on what I want my students to learn

during the lesson. The statements focus on the central reasoning for the lesson. They are

derived from Michigans Common Core grade level standards. Usually these I can statements

are just written in my lesson plans. I share the goal of the lesson verbally to the whole group at

the beginning of the lesson. My dean and I discussed that I can make these statements more

tangible to students by creating them in student-friendly terms. We also discussed how if I

posted them and also shared them at the beginning and end of the lesson, then students could

continue to grasp and understand what they are trying to learn. Evidence of their ownership in

their learning would be having the students be able to share what they learned in their own

words.

During the next week of my lesson planning I decided to rewrite my I can statements in

a way students would be able to recite in their own words. For example, one of the english

language arts common core standards for 4th graders is to Describe the overall structure (e.g.,

chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or

information in a text or part of a text (National Governors Association for Best Practices,

Council of Chief State, 2010). I attempted to make this standard student-friendly by revising the

statement to I can describe the cause and effect events in text. On the morning of my next

observation I wrote out all of my focused goals on my whiteboard. Since I see many small

groups throughout the day I had a handful of statements. When I would meet in a specific small

group I shared or had a student read the I can and would place a star next to the goal we were

focusing on. Throughout the lesson I would continually refer back to the I can and connect the

activity we were doing to the goal we shared at the beginning of the lesson. My dean came to

observe my revised lesson and record observations.

After my lesson and observation I was able to review and reflect with my dean the

effectiveness of my lesson and if I was reaching toward my overall goal of student


understanding of their learning. When reviewing, my dean was able to give me observations

that I was not able to remember or recall. I realized when I am teaching I am focused on certain

thoughts and processes with an overall goal in mind. While Im teaching my brain is multi-

tasking in pacing the lesson, recalling the content, and managing the behavior in the group.

With my dean sharing observations I was able to hear a different perspective of the lesson. He

was able to give me more insight from his perspective and also the perspectives of the students.

Even though we both were focused on the goal of students being able to share their learnings,

my dean was also able to share the level of engagement my students had and their excitement

for learning the topic we were discussing. During our debriefing O3, my dean shared that my

students have a high level of engagement in the lesson and noticed how quickly they were able

to recall and understand the central focus on the lesson. At the end of the lesson he also

observed that students were able to leave the lesson sharing the statements and defining the

relationship between causes and effects in their own words.

The peer coaching structure adds to my initial views of quality teaching. Two areas of

quality teaching I shared about in my initial focus were being intentional and flexible in teaching.

While reflecting on the peer coaching experience I find another addition to the intentionally and

flexibility needed for quality teaching. In teaching there should be intentionality in planning with

students in mind. Before I discussed planning on student interest, but in addition to focusing on

students interests I should be mindful of what I want my students to learn and how they are

able to internalize and voice their learning. In addition to having intention in teaching, there is

another element of flexibility teachers need in quality teaching. Previously I spoke about quality

teaching was being able to change in response to students. However, I think quality teaching

also incorporates being able to change in response to other teachers and mentors. Quality

teaching allows teachers to take new ideas and thoughts from others and integrate them into

their own teaching to improve student learning. Utilizing the variety of peer coaching formats
allows teachers to grow in their teaching and bring in another valuable perspective to teaching

practices.

References

Grimm, E., Kaufman, T., & Doty, D. (2014). Rethinking classroom observation. Educational
Leadership, 71(8), 24-29.

National Governors Association for Best Practices, Council of Chief State. (2010). Common
Core English Language Arts State Standards. Washington D.C.: National Council of
Chief State School Officers.

Robbins, P. (1991). How to plan and implement a peer coaching program. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum.