four lenses: peer lens

Teaching practice can benefit greatly from the involvement of peers in the observation and review of teaching and learning. There are many ways in which teachers can learn from feedback provided by their peers, and observing the teaching of others can enhance reflection on one's own teaching. Peers might observe your teaching, review your class plans or course outlines, mentor you through promotion or award processes, or help you interpret feedback and plan any alterations to your teaching. Fellow teachers can provide helpful observations and advice, and the process of peer reflection can create supportive teaching environments, help overcome academic isolation and lead to confident, reflective teachers.

Peer Observation of Teaching Module

In collaboration with the ITL, the Faculty of Arts provides a module for colleagues to use to support engagement in voluntary, developmental and reciprocal peer observation of teaching. The Peer Observation of Teaching (PoT) Module, successfully trialled by Faculty staff in 2008, is now available for Arts colleagues to use, as they wish. Powerpoint slides with presenter notes for Briefing and Debriefing plenary sessions can be downloaded from the Arts Public server. These are a resource for either individual pair or larger team use.

For concise guidelines for a peer review process similar to the PoT module, see the link below to 'Collaborative Peer Review'.

Useful resources and links for peer observation and review of teaching:

Micro-Teaching

Micro-teaching is a teaching exercise undertaken in a short period of time (e.g. in under 10 minutes) with a small number of colleagues. After the exercise, participants provide you with feedback on your teaching. Micro-teaching can be used to test out teaching methods that you haven't tried before and/or to test the extent to which teaching exercises/activities that you already use are aligned with class/unit outcomes.

One possible way to conduct an effective micro-teaching exercise would be to organise a group of 5-10 peers to participate in a 2-hour micro-teaching session (this could, of course, be broken into two 1-hour sessions over two consecutive weeks). Each participant would teach for 5-6 minutes, followed by 4-5 minutes after each activity for feedback. The following document provides advice on drafting an individual micro-teaching activity and creating a feedback sheet based on your activity.

  • Planning a Micro-teaching Activity: An exercise to help you: a) identify an aspect of your teaching that is appropriate for a micro-teaching activity, b) plan your micro-teaching demonstration, and c) focus your participants' feedback more productively.

Peer Review of Teaching Documents and Resources

Many teachers, especially those involved in team teaching of units, practise informal peer reviews of course outlines, lecture notes, lesson plans, and so on. Such reviews are an invaluable part of reflective teaching practices. The following documents provide guides for the collation and enhancement of the peer review of teaching documents and learning resources.

  • Peer Review of a Lesson Plan: this document suggests some important information you may need to prepare before approaching a peer to review a Lesson Plan for you. It also provides an example of a Peer Review Pro Forma that you might use or adapt when asking a colleague to review a Lesson Plan.
  • Peer Review of a Unit of Study Outline: this document offers advice on how to approach a colleague who can provide feedback on your Unit of Study Outline, advice on how to construct a Pro Forma to help focus the comments of your colleague, and an example of a Pro Forma.

The Pro Formas and review strategies contained in these documents can be adapted to help you organise the peer review of other teaching documents (e.g. powerpoint presentations, lecture notes, WebCT sites, Lectopia recordings). Feel free to adapt these Pro Formas so that they match the document/resource you are seeking feedback for and the reasons you are seeking feedback.

Further Reading