Reflecting on today’s discussion after the coaching demonstration, I just want to emphasise the differences between peer coaching and other kinds of observation and feedback procedures. The key features of peer coaching are that it is descriptive (not evaluative), specific and precise (not general), constructive (not threatening), solicited (not imposed), and well-timed (not poorly timed). Evaluations by supervisors and mentoring experiences are different: the former in particular will always have something uncomfortable and even menacing about it. Even the gentlest of mentors may have occasion to point out problems to the apprentice teacher. Peer coaching, in contrast, is aimed for maximum comfort and requires the coach to limit responses and comments to specific data from the observation. General comments are to be avoided, especially if they are negative. We are hoping for the teacher to become aware of flaws or difficulties in the lesson and to articulate these to the coach, who will respond by confirming from the observed data.
George made some very good points today and we all need to be aware that we may find ourselves in professional situations where we do need to point out to a teacher the problems with the lesson. However, over the course of one’s career, consistent and meaningful professional growth is only, I suggest, gained from regular interactions with a trusted colleagues as our peer coach.