What Are Peer Coaching and Peer Review?
Peer coaching and peer review are professional development strategies for educators to consult with one another, to discuss and share teaching practices, to observe one another's classrooms, to promote collegiality and support, and to help ensure quality teaching for all students.
In peer coaching, usually two teachers (though sometimes three or more) come together, share in conversations, and reflect on and refine their practice. Their relationship is built on confidentiality and trust in a non threatening, secure environment in which they learn and grow together; therefore, peer coaching is usually not part of an evaluative system.
Similar to peer coaching, peer review pairs an experienced consulting teacher with either a new teacher or a veteran teacher who needs assistance. The pair observe each other's classrooms and share ideas, skills, and study materials, with the mentor providing instructive feedback and recommendations to the novice or struggling teacher. Peer review has one added element that is not part of peer coaching: The consulting teacher conducts formal evaluations and makes recommendations to the participating teacher's supervisor regarding his or her employment status.
Why Use Peer Coaching and Peer Review?
Both strategies provide job-embedded, ongoing professional support. Peer coaching is effective for the following reasons:
It allows teachers to work together professionally, thereby eliminating feelings of isolation.
• It encourages reflection and analysis of teaching practice.
• It promotes specific feedback over time.
• It fosters collaboration among teachers throughout the school building.
As a result, teachers experience positive changes in their teaching practice.
Peer review is an effective way of ensuring quality teaching and helping inadequate teachers improve. Proponents prefer peer review to traditional principal evaluations, because principal evaluations may be rushed, superficial, or perfunctory. Peer review does not have to replace more traditional methods of evaluation, however, but can deepen and expand the processes of accountability. Peer review also allows teachers to take a more active role in their professional development. Because peer review can lead to changes in employment, teacher unions often have been involved in the implementation and evaluation of peer review programs.