The Impact of Peer Observation on my teaching and student progress

Peer Observation…is it helpful?

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

It is often said that experience teaches wisdom and mistakes make you stronger. However, the art of teaching is one which, in my opinion, is a life long journey of learning; you can always better your best. Indeed, even though I believe in these sayings, I was still hoping to find a shortcut – become a master teacher of mathematics in three to five years (pretty ambitious). After all, how hard could it be? It is the same content. So isn’t it like reading the same script five days a week for three years?

Now, fast-forward to 7 + years later and I am still learning so much about the same content.

While I have certainly honed my craft through reading much research about how to teach various concepts in maths, watching loads of Youtube videos and of course lots of practicing the problems before I go in front of my students; I believe one of the things that impacted my teaching the most was Peer Observation.

Peer observation deserves so much more credit and should be widely practiced. It builds reflective practitioners, it encourages discussion around teaching and learning and when used effectively, our number one clients – students – reap significant benefits.

Inviting other teachers to come into your lesson can itself be quite daunting, the fear of criticisms, thinking of all the things that could go wrong – class control, not being able to adequately answer a question posed by students and so many other things. However, these are exactly the reason why peer observation should be considered. Moreover, it is informal and so the pressure is minimal.

Having other teachers observe me, was having another set of eyes, except with 20/20 or perhaps a 360° vision – the observer sees much more than I did and so was able to give me tips on little things that had big impact.

On the other hand, I enjoy observing other teachers teach – this is the short cut to experience that I was hoping for! There is always something to learn, so many good practices and, as Picasso said ‘Good artists copy; great artists steal.’ I took his advice and I would steal literally every good practice I observed. I would be so excited to try something I learnt from my peer observation in my lessons to see if the ‘magic’ would work for me too. Surprisingly, 9 out of 10 times it did!

I saw more progressed being made by pupils during lessons and on assessments and of course, my classroom management improved significantly.

In my department, we observe each other frequently, and I value the discussions in our feedback sessions because I find them very useful.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Published by lotoyalpt

Passionate, driven and called to be a teacher. My name is Lotoya Patrick-Taylor, a sister, a wife, a mom, a friend and a teacher. I was trained to be a teacher in Jamaica, where I received my Teaching Diploma in Mathematics at Church Teachers' College and my BA in Mathematics from Southern New Hampshire University (Hons) in the U.S.A. I have been teaching high school mathematics for just over eight years. Taught for four years in Jamaica, worked as a mathematics coach and delivered workshops to various maths department. I am currently in my fourth year in the United Kingdom, where I am the Lead teacher of Maths at my school. In addition to being a classroom teacher in the U.K, I am a maths coach and I also deliver training sessions at my school and to a network of schools. Roles I thoroughly enjoy - I love people and I love collaborating, sharing and learning (hence, the reason I decided to start this blog).

10 thoughts on “The Impact of Peer Observation on my teaching and student progress

    1. Thank you for sharing Kim. I know peer observation is not always held in a good light but it can really be a valuable personal development tool. All the best. It would be nice to hear back from you on how it goes (when schools finally return to normal)

      Like

  1. The thought of peer observation can be very daunting. However, I do see the benefits of the activity. I like how you consider it a shortcut to learning and improving best practices. While I have no issues observing my peers, like most teachers, I don’t particularly appreciate being observed. However, as you rightly said, it gives a 360 view of what is happening in your practice. I have recently relocated, and there are days when teaching seems more complicated than it was a few years ago. Having read your article, I do think the process of peer evaluation may help me to serve my students better. Visiting a colleague’s class could provide me with valuable insights while having colleagues visit my class could give me with a 20/20 vision of my classes.

    Like

    1. Hi Leonora, I felt similar to you at first. Once I changed my perspective from seeing it as being judged to more of what can I learnt from all of this, I started enjoying it. To be honest, there will be times when you may not learn much or it was a matter of reinforcement for you, but majority of the times you do (or at least I did). Thanks again for sharing. Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

      Like

  2. Easy and practical approaches to understanding Mathematical concepts and content. Particularly love the multiple intelligences that the presentations target. Love it .
    Math: making all things happen!

    Like

  3. Peer observations are an excellent tool to help develop teaching practice. I feel that my adopting an open door policy within teams, less teachers feel intimidated by having another adult in the room. What people need to realise, is that it is the reflective conversations which take place after the observations are the most important part of the observation process. By discussing the What? How? Why? Aspects of your lesson, observers not only get a better picture of the planning process, but they are also able to make invaluable suggestions which only make your teaching better. Peer observations also work well when they are cross-curricular.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your reflections on this Lamyaa. In addition to what you have said, perhaps if we all use the ‘sandwich’ approach when having that valuable conversation where we think of what went well, help each other identify an area for development and end by reinforcing the strengths it could reduce fear.

      Like

  4. ‘Good artists copy; great artists steal.’ I love this quote and I will now steal it from you! 😀
    Like you, I also steal good practice that I see in other lessons. It always helps me improve my teaching and try new great activities that I would have never thought of doing. I have always valued the importance of Peer Observation too and this is a great article for those who always see the negative side of it. There is always something to learn!

    Like

    1. Steal away my friend. Steal away! Thank you Houmayra and thanks for sharing your experience of peer observations. I believe your feedback will encourage others to also try this at their school.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: