Peer coaching: Teachers helping teachers

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Illinois Chicago]On: 24 October 2014, At: 05:10Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Peer coaching: Teachers helpingteachersTara Gray a & Jon'a Meyer ba Department of Criminal Justice , New Mexico StateUniversityb Department of Sociology , Rutgers UniversityPublished online: 20 Aug 2006.

    To cite this article: Tara Gray & Jon'a Meyer (1997) Peer coaching: Teachers helping teachers,Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 8:2, 273-284, DOI: 10.1080/10511259700086361

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  • RESOURCES

    PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS*

    TARA GRAY Department of Criminal Justice

    New Mexico State University

    JON'A MEYER Department of Sociology

    Rutgers University

    Peer coaching is a process in which teachers visit each other's classes and meet to pool their observations and expertise. It is based on the premise that teachers have a wealth of experience and knowledge about teaching and that "we are the experts" and can improve our teaching both by observing others and by being ob- served. Faculty members' and students' responses to peer coaching programs have been overwhelmingly positive. For example, almost 60 percent of participants in New Mexico judged peer coaching as the most effective teaching improvement strat- egy when compared with teaching workshops, reading about teaching, and evalua- tions by administrators, peers and students.

    As scholars, we conduct a great deal of co-authored research. As teachers, we stress the importance of collaborative learning: All of us are smarter than any of us. In our own teaching, however, we often forget this principle, and our classrooms become isolated. When teachers work alone without helping each other, no one benefits from the experience of others (Arredondo and Fueyo 1994:110). A process that works to reverse this trend is peer coaching, in which teachers visit each other's classes and meet to pool their observations and expertise. Peer coaching is based on the premise that most teachers have a wealth of experience and knowledge about teaching, and that "we are the experts." We can, therefore, improve our teaching both by observing others and by being observed.

    *We thank Jody Crowley and Barbara MiMs for their help on the instruments, as well as Lisa Bond-Maupin and Harriet Linkin for their comments on the article. For funding this project we thanl~ The Center for Teaching Excellence at Eastern New Mexico University, as well as the Center for Educational Development, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Department of Criminal Justice at New Mexico State University.

    JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE EDUCATION, Vol. 8 No. 2, Fall 1997 1997 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

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  • 274 PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS

    The goals of peer coaching are to enhance learning and to increase teachers' positive feedback, companionship and risk taking. Teachers need positive feedback. In light of the many negative comments in students' evaluations, we need affirmation for the effective job most of us do every day (Munro and Elliott 1987:2). Teachers also need companionship. Peer coaching offers this by providing someone with whom to think out loud (Joyce and Showers 1982:6). In addition, teachers need support to experi- ment with new learning techniques. If we are to be encouraged to take risks, there must be someone to reassure us when we fail (Munro and Elli- ott 1987:14). Finally, teachers want to teach more effectively. Peer coach- ing will improve learning as well as teaching because students learn more when teaching improves (Weimer 1993:74).

    In this article we discuss a two-phase peer coaching program con- ducted in New Mexico during 1995-1996. In the first phase, each of the program directors took a class from the other to gain some experience in peer coaching. In the second phase, we advertised peer coaching at two state universities; faculty members were encouraged to participate for one week. We held an orientation at one site, and a workshop/round table at both sites. Here we describe the results of a survey we administered con- cerning the problems and the promise of the program.

    Peer coaching is not new; it has been used extensively in K-12 school systems (Arredondo and Fueyo 1994:107). A few college campuses (Mary- land, Ball State, Valdosta State) also have experimented with classroom vis- its. In the peer mentoring model, senior teachers visit the classrooms of less senior teachers; in the peer coaching model, peers visit each other's classrooms. The University College at the University of Maryland estab- lished a mentoring program using funds from FIPSE, the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (Millis 1992; 1994). In this ongoing program, award-winning teachers are paid to visit other teachers' classrooms and to provide written and oral comments. At Ball State Univer- sity, nine sets of teaching partners were given release time from teaching one class to attend a peer's class for a semester and to meet weekly to discuss new teaching strategies (Annis 1989:7-9). At Valdosta State Univer- sity, two teachers engaged in a peer coaching exchange that involved both a literature review and extensive writing in a journal (Arredondo and Fueyo 1994). At an Illinois high school, one-third of the teachers agreed to ob- serve each other's classes and to discuss their observations (Munro and Etli- oft 1987). 1

    Iinstructors do not need a peer coaching program, however, in order to enioy most of the benefits of peer coaching. Eve-n if one's un~ee-rsityh- as no program, peer coachi]agrequires nothing more tlaan a partner and a commitment. Criminal justice faculty members seem to be willing participants: At one site, half of the eight members of the Department of Criminal Justice completed the program. A peer coaching packet provided participants with questions that might help initiate di~ogue between partners, - -

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  • GRAY AND MEYER 275

    Peer coaching is not free of problems, however. It frightens some teachers away, and may cause others to overprepare before the coach's visit. Before the first observation, one peer coach wrote:

    Both of us are excited, anxious, and nervous. Even though trust levels are high between us, I'm concerned that she not see me teaching at less than my best. I think she feels the same . . . . I don t feel I've had adequate time to prepare and I'm resisting that feeling. I think it is just a response to having her there. I want to "show off my best teaching. I don't want her to think I'm not as good a teacher as she is. (Arredondo and Fueyo 1994:108,109)

    Her partner expressed similar concerns:

    Since we set the date for my first observation, I've used much energy resisting the impulse to do more than I ordinarily do to prep for a class. I am determined to avoid the cart-and-pony rou- tine. (Arredondo and Fueyo 1994:109)

    Some teachers may not be able to resist overpreparing for class. Even so, teachers probably are "about as good one day as the next" in the areas that will be most apparent to the observer: knowledge of the subject mat- ter, relationship with the students, and public speaking skills. Indeed, these areas cannot easily be changed with an extra hour, two hours or even ten hours of preparation.

    Even though peer coaching intimidates some teachers and may cause them to overprepare, the faculty members' response to peer coaching has been overwhelmingly positive: "[Although] teaching is typically a private, even secretive act, the partner pairs genuinely seemed to welcome the op- portunity to throw back the cloak of secrecy for at least one term" (Annis 1989:11). Many teachers find the programs an important step in their pro- fessional development, and a rejuvenating experience. They are reassured to see that other teachers experience the same problems as themselves, including "problem" students and disciplinary concerns. Through this type of sharing, teachers feel less alone and face daily challenges with increased enthusiasm. As one teacher wrote, "Peer coaching confirmed that what I was doing in the classroom was right" (Munro and Elliott 1987:11). Partici- pants report "high satisfaction, more interaction with other faculty mem- bers, increased motivation, and renewed interest in teaching" (Menges 1987:91).

    Participants have made significant changes based on their experience with peer coaching, in sharp contrast to modifications based on students' evaluations. Some teachers resist changes suggested by students because they feel that students are not experts on teaching (Irby 1983:458; Spencer 1992:13). One study found that fewer than one-fourth of college teachers made changes in their teaching based on students' evaluations; only 8 per- cent responded to peers' evaluation and 2 percent to administrators' evalua- tion (Spencer and Flyr 1992:12). In peer coaching projects, on the other hand, more than 80 percent report positive effects on their teaching (Mfllis

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  • 276 PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS

    1994; Munro and EUiott 1987); and the improvements are relatively long- lasting (Erickson and Eriekson 1979:682). Perhaps peer coaching is more helpful than evaluations of teaching because it is intended to improve teaching, not to judge it (Munro and Ell/oR 1987:9-10).

    Students also observe important differences when their teachers par- ticipate in peer coaching. At Ball State, students rated faculty members at both the beginning and the end of the semester-long peer coaching experi- ment. At the end of the term they judged faculty members as significantly better at numerous teaching skills including stimulating students' interest, invoMng students in class, listening and questioning, achieving closure, or- ganization and presentation, and evaluation methods (Annis 1989:11).

    THE PEER COACHING PROGRAM IN NEW MEXICO

    Phase 1

    During the fall 1995 term, the program directors, Tara Gray and Jon'a Meyer, each attended a course taught by the other. (This experience is described elsewhere in greater detail; see Meyer and Gray 1996). Gray attended a research methods class; Meyer attended a senior seminar. We attended class each day and then met for an hour to discuss what we had seen. Our discussions about class did not always go smoothly: sometimes they were loud and spirited. At the outset we agreed that the role of the peer coach would be to identify problems without dictating solutions from personal experience. In our own work as peer coaches, however, this was the greatest challenge: each of us occasionally ordered the other to make sweeping changes in her teaching style. We considered warning future par- ticipants about this problem but decided against it because some partici- pants might have the opposite difficulty: they might be afraid to even identify problems. In fact, this was the case, as we discuss later. In the end we came to believe that successful peer coaching requires the ability to point to problems without demanding ready-made solutions.

    In Phase 1 we participated fully as students by doing all the homework and taking all the quizzes and examinations. As soon as we were cast as students, we behaved like students. Once Gray complained to Meyer that an exam was scheduled at a bad time because she wanted to finish the draft of an article and didn't have time to study. On another occasion, Gray sided with students on what she perceived to be a "trick" question. Again, on the first test, Gray was disappointed when another student outperformed her. We actually spent long hours studying for exams on which the grades would never be recorded.

    We worked hard as students, and we also learned a great deal. It was rewarding to see that PhDs who apply themselves can learn so much in

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  • GRAY AND MEYER 277

    undergraduate courses, even in our own discipline. Peer coaching con- firmed that what we teach in criminal justice can be useful and challenging to students, even advanced students.

    Phase 2

    In spring 1996 we opened a peer coaching program to others by invit- ing faculty members from two campuses to participate. In this phase, teachers participated as observers rather than as students in the classes they attended. Participants made classroom observations at their home institu- tion with a partner of their choice. After the observations, the partners shared their insights with each other. At the end of the term, the partners stated their observations in a workshop and roundtable discussion at their home institution.

    At this workshop, all participants were asked to evaluate the program in terms of the objectives and its usefulness to them. For this purpose we provided each participant with an eight-page questionnaire containing open- and closed-ended questions. Some questions were designed to ex- plore the effectiveness of various aspects of the peer coaching model, in- eluding the quality of the provided guidelines, the program itself, and the roundtable discussion. In others the participants were asked to rate their satisfaction or agreement with a variety of items related to the program, such as "I received supportive feedback from my coach" and "My coach seemed unable or unwilling to provide constructive criticism."

    The program was completed by 54 faculty members at two universities in New Mexico. Although most of the faculty at these two institutions are tenured and most are men, most of our participants were untenured and female. Participants had taught for an average of 11 years. The great ma- jority of coaches (88 percent; n = 46) said they participated because they wanted to improve their teaching; a few (n = 4) participated because they felt pressured to do so; two participated for the financial incentive or to meet other people. Most participants (70 percent; n = 38) worked with someone from the same general field as themselves (e.g., social sciences); two-fifths (41 percent; n = 22) were in the same department. More than two-thirds (70 percent; n = 38) knew their partners before participating in the program, and just over half (52 percent; n = 28) had the same tenure status or were the same gender as their partners. Most (87 percent; n = 47) felt that they and their coach were equally committed to teaching. Table 1 provides more information about the participants and their fields of study.

    The orientation packet suggested that participants meet with their partners to discuss their goals before making class visits; 70 percent (n = 39) did so. More than three-fourths (77 percent; n = 42) attended two or three hours of their coaches' courses, but two attended fewer than two hours. Most remarkably, four coaches (8 percent) attended 18 or more hours of class, and one pair reported attending each other's classes for the

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  • 278 PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS

    Table I. Participant Characteristics

    Characteristics Percent . Frequency Female 65% n=35 Non-tenured 70% n=38 Reasons for participation:

    To improve teaching 88% n=46 Felt pressured to do so 7% n=4 To meet other faculty n=l For the financial incentive n=l

    Field of Study: Social sciences 24% n=13 Business 24% n=13 Sciences/engineering 13% n = 7 Arts/humanities 13% n=7 Education 11% n=6 Languages 7% n=4 Other 7% n=4

    Average years of teaching 11 years

    entire semester. The majority (78 percent; n = 39) discussed their class- room observations with their coaches for one to three hours. In short, the typical team spent about eight to ten hours on this process, including time for attending the orientation (at the first site), meeting each other, observ- ing classes, holding discussions after classes, and attending the roundtable discussion.

    Just as the literature suggests (Arredondo and Fueyo 1994:108-109), we found that many faculty members are terrified at the idea of a colleague in their classroom. We intended to assign coaches to partners if they signed up for the program alone, but we received phone calls expressing anxiety about potential partners. In one particularly revealing call, a colleague in- formed us that he would not accept as a coach anyone who was (1) tenured, (2) in an unrelated field, (3) in his department, or (4) in his college. To allay such fears, we promoted peer coaching as a supportive, nonthreatening way to improve teaching. We also insisted that peer coaches select their own partners.

    By asking peer coaches to choose their own partners, we prevented another problem: some faculty members believe that they are such superior teachers that they have nothing to learn from less experienced teachers. When faculty members are asked to select their own partners, they choose persons whom they consider to be of their own "pedigree." In our view, however, a peer coach need not be as good a teacher as his or her partner. Just as students can give useful advice about teaching, so can beginning teachers. Such advice may be more valuable than that provided by even the

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  • GRAY AND MEYER 279

    best student because every teacher is involved in the problems that teach- ers face every, day: being clear, keeping the attention of the class, and set- ting limits with students. Precisely for this reason we rejected the peer mentoring model, in which senior teachers mentor junior teachers without receiving any feedback themselves (e.g., Millis 1992; 1994). In the peer coaching model, teachers help each other. In our experience, peer coach- ing can improve teaching skills regardless of the teaching prowess of one's partner.

    BENEFITS OF PEER COACHING

    Participants in our program reported many benefits of peer coaching. Nearly all (94 percent; n = 51) felt that they received supportive feedback; 74 percent (n = 40) found that their coaches were companions with whom they could think out loud. One participant expressed the feeling of com- panionship and support as follows:

    I felt companionship and support in the difficulties I face teach- ing large intro classes. I could see that the problems I faced were not rooted in my personal failings . . . . I received feedback and inspiration to keep striving to humanize the classroom and break down barriers of understanding between myself and my students.

    Participants felt equally well supported by their partners whether or not they knew them before participating in the program. It is a tribute to the peer coaching process that participants reported such widespread support despite the anxiety that many participants expressed.

    Peer coaching was also credited with other benefits. According to three-fourths (72 percent; n = 39), peer coaching confirmed that what the?- were doing in the classroom was right. As one colleague remarked,

    My peer coach provided a sanity check for me. This [campus] environment is a very negative one for me. It was nice to hear someone say I was doing it (teaching) well.

    Almost two-thirds (63 percent; n = 34) agreed that peer coaching would help them communicate better with their students, and that it would help their students learn more from them (59 percent; n = 32).

    The participants were convinced that peer coaching improves teach- ing. Four-fifths (80 percent; n = 43) felt that peer coaching helped them improve their own teaching; an even higher proportion (85 percent; n = 46) agreed that an ongoing peer coaching program would improve teaching at their university. Even in an open-ended question about the benefits, nearly half (48 percent; n = 26) volunteered that peer coaching improves teaching by providing (1) an opportunity to see a colleague teaching, (2) solutions to particular teaching problems and (3) discussions about teaching.

    Watching someone else teach allowed me to see my own strengths/weaknesses as a teacher[;] observing students helped me see my students more clearly[;] it helped to actually see a colleague model ideas shared in department meetings.

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  • 280 PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS

    . . .[1learning about how another professor deals with similar problems, especially how to make group discussions work, using weekly quizzes, keeping the classroom lively and interested, maintaining a good rapport. It was just good to see how these problems are tackled in ways that I may like to copy in my own teaching.

    [The benefits included] feedback on in-class practices, peer sup- port in solving in class problems, feedback on how my techniques work in other classes, the "foment created by sharing thoughts on teaching practices.

    Four-fifths (80 percent; n = 43) would participate in peer coaching again; most would recommend it to a friend ffpay were provided (83 percent; n = 45) or even without pay (76 percent; n = 41),

    Almost three,fifths of the participants (59 percent; n = 32) rated peer coaching a more effective teaching improvement strategy than teaching workshops, students' evaluations, peers' evaluations based on classroom vis- its, reading about teaching, and administrators' evaluations. We were en- couraged to see that peer coaching was rated most effective for improving teaching by three times as many participants as the next most effective strategy (teaching workshops), and by four times as many as the most com- mon strategy (students' evaluations). (See Table 2.)

    Table II. P e r c e n t o f part ic ipants rat ing e a c h o f six t e a c h e r i m p r o v e m e n t p r o g r a m s as m o s t effective

    Teaching improvement program Percent 2 Frequency Peer coaching 59% n=32 Teaching workshops 20% n= 11 Student evaluations 15% n=8 Reading about teaching 11% n=6 Peer evaluations (based on classroom visits) 11% n=6 Administrative evaluations n= 1

    To determine whether the mean scores differed significantly between groups of participants, we performed one-way analyses of variance on five dependent variables, regarding whether participants (1) received support- ive feedback, (2) felt that peer coaching helped them improve their teach- ing, (3) would participate in peer coaching in the future, (4) would recommend the program to friends, and (5) rated peer coaching superior to five other teaching improvement systems. It appears that the benefits of peer coaching were not limited to any particular demographic group (gen- der, tenure status, teaching field, years of teaching experience) or to those who had traits in common with their partners (whether they were of the

    ~The total number of"most effective strategies" does not add up to 100 percent because three respondents rated several strategies as equally effective.

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  • GRAY AND MEYER 281

    same gender or tenure status, belonged to the same field or department, or knew each other before the program)P The only factor that played any significant role was site: those at the first site were less likely to feel that peer coaching helped them improve their teaching (F = 9.62, p < .01), less likely to participate in peer coaching in the future (F = 4.61, p < .05), and less likely to recommend the program to their friends (F = 10.38, p < .01).

    At the second site, each participant was paid $50. At the first site, some participants were paid nothing; others received $500 to participate in two teaching improvement programs, including peer coaching. Only about half of the participants at this site (52 percent; n = 11) reported that their participation was completely voluntary. The rest felt that they had been pressured to participate in peer coaching; ff they did not participate, they might lose the full $500. Because participants in the second group felt that they had volunteered for peer coaching, they may have felt more commit- ted and more positive. We would like to create this type of environment for future peer coaching programs.

    P R O B L E M S W I T H P E E R C O A C H I N G

    We asked participants to describe their greatest problem with peer coaching. Four participants could think of no problem:

    I don't have any problems with peer coaching, nor do I believe any aspect of it needs repair. It is an excellent program.

    The mood of the closing roundtable discussion was positive at both sites, and very enthusiastic at the second. Nonetheless, three problems were stated: the program was too time-consuming (57 percent, n = 31), the part- ners could not work together long enough to allow for effective change (11 percent, n = 6), and the partners were not well matched and/or were un- willing to be critical (13 percent, n = 7).

    The participants who felt they were not well matched and/or were un- willing to be critical were the most problematic, stating:

    Without knowing the person, it may not be a good match. I think it works best with two people who already have a working rela- tionship that is comfortable. Really try to encourage this [in the fu~re].

    It requires [coaches] to be straight forward direct and say ex- actly what has been observed. If this is not occurring, it is a farce.

    In the orientation packet we included directions that we hoped would help participants pick appropriate coaches. We encouraged participants (1) to choose like-minded partners who shared common goals (Irby 1983:458; Spencer 1992:8-10), and (2) to select partners who were not in a position to evaluate their teaching because the purpose was to obtain honest feedback rather than to impress a colleague. Several participants paired with teachers

    aNone of these differences was sta~tieally significant, even at the .1 level.

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  • 9.82 PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS

    whom they had never even met by consulting a list of all the unpartnered participants and selecting the one who had signed up in a discipline that was related most closely to theirs. Apparently this system did not work for all the participants, for whom meeting potential partners in person would have worked better than selecting a name from a hst. Even though most (74 percent, n = 40) of the participants felt that the orientation packet we provided was self-explanatory, we agree with the sizable minority (22 per- cent, n = 12) who felt that they needed an orientation. We think future programs should have an orientation that is geared to helping prospective coaches meet each other and choose persons with whom they could feel comfortable and be frank. 4

    Some scholars believe that if peer coaching is to be most effective, coaches must observe regularly over an extended period (Irby 1983:461; Millis 1992:191; Spencer 1992; Weimer 1990:122). In the Ball State experi- ment, for example, one teacher wrote that "the opportunity to observe an- other instructor for the ENTIRE quarter was invaluable" (Annis 1989:10; emphasis in original). In our program, most participants attended two or three hours of their partner's classes; this period seemed long enough for most people because one-third (36 percent, n = 16) of those who provided estimates recommended that future participants observe the class for this length of time. Eighteen percent, however (n = 8), recommended less ob- servation; 11 percent (n = 6) recommended more than 10 hours of observa- tion. In the open-ended section of the survey, 11 percent (n = 6) volunteered that the hours of class observation were too few for effective peer coaching:

    [The program] was too short. We went to three classes each around the middle or later part of the semester, so we missed out on the special problems of the early weeks--for example, how to establish a good rapport with new students, solve early problems over reading requirements, absenteeism, etc. The program would work better if it were possible to take a full course.

    In closed-ended questions, many participants agreed that if they partici- pated in peer coaching for a full semester, they would take more risks in the classroom (46 percent, n = 25), would experiment more with interactive and collaborative learning (56 percent, n = 30), and would become more empathetic toward their own students (57 percent, n = 35).

    Unfortunately, participants in a one-week program claimed that the program already was too time-consuming:

    [Our biggest problem was] arranging time to meet [and] visit classes. We delayed in doing so since other activities seemed to get a higher priority. Both my partner and I are committed to providing quality teaching, however, there are subtle, and not so

    4An orientation meeting could prevent other problems as well. For example, one pair of coaches mistakenly thought they were to attend alI o each other's classes for a week, a total of nine hours, rather than only one class for a week, a total of three hours.

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  • GRAY AND MEYER 283

    subtle reminders that other factors will be weighted more heavily in terms of our evaluation for tenure and promotion.

    Indeed, the perception persists that teaching is not valued for tenure and promotion, so administrators must take steps to send a different message. At Ball State University, for example, coaches were given release time from teaching one class to attend a peer's class for a semester and to meet weekly to discuss their observations. Even with the release time, the most serious criticism leveled at the project was that it "took far more time than participants had anticipated" (Annis 1989:10). This was true for the project directors in New Mexico as welt: we found that participating fully in a part- ner's class took about as much time as teaching a class that one had taught before. Peer coaching, however, improved our teaching far more than would teaching one additional class. The reality is that peer coaching re- quires a great deal of time, demonstrates a commitment on the teacher's part, and will never be a money-making proposition.

    CONCLUSION

    As teachers invest more time in improving their teaching, they are more likely to improve. We believe this is true whether they participate in a full-semester program in which they attend one colleague's class all term or attend numerous classes taught by different colleagues. We think that future peer coaching programs should support teachers who prefer to work with one partner for a full semester, as well as teachers who want to work with many different partners for a shorter time, perhaps a week each. We predict that either method could yield the great benefits that students re- ported receiving in the semester-long program at Ball State (Annis 1989:11); such dramatic outcomes, however, are unlikely for faculty mem- bers who devote only a few hours to peer coaching.

    Faculty members are willing and eager to participate in peer coaching. At the second site, when participants were asked whether they would be interested in participating in a full-semester program, 90% said they would plan to participate if a one-course release were granted. Money does not seem to solve the problem of overscheduling among faculty members, who are likely to put other commitments first; administratively, however, it is much easier to pay participants than to guarantee release time, which does not always materialize (Annis 1989:10). Perhaps participants could be paid an amount equal to one class, which would allow them to arrange for the release time that brings the most benefits from peer coaching. If release time in that semester is impossible, the extra pay could be used for release time during the following term, or to relieve the faculty member from the perceived financial obligation to teach a summer course or engage in con- sulting. Faculty members can be rewarded in other ways as well; adminis- trators also should consider promising the participants improved administrative reviews for the semester in which they participate.

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  • 284 PEER COACHING: TEACHERS HELPING TEACHERS

    Overall the participants believed that peer coaching achieved its goals. They felt that their partners could provide them with supportive feedback and constructive criticism in a nonthreatening atmosphere. The partici- pants also felt that the program helped them improve their teaching and would have lasting effects for their students. Among six common strategies for teaching improvement, peer coaching was rated most effective by three times as many participants as was the second most effective strategy (teach- ing workshops), and by four times as many participants as students' evalua- t'ions (the most common strategy). Clearly, peer coaching can help teachers help each other.

    Any two teachers with a commitment can engage in peer coaching and reap the benefits. If peer coaching is to help transform the academy on a large scale, however, peer coaching programs are also necessary. The ma- jor problem in establishing such programs seems to be overcommitment among faculty members. Administrators must take steps to give peer coach- ing priority over other, competing activities. Peer coaching can make a sig- nificant difference for teachers, but it requires a significant commitment from administrators.

    REFERENCES

    Annis, L. F. (1989). "Partners in Teaching Improvement." Journal of Staff, Program and Or- ganization Development 7(1):7-11.

    Arredondo, D E. and J E Fueyo (1994) "Peer Observation and Coaching Go to College." Teaching Education 6(2):107-11

    Eriekson, G R. and B. I. Erickson. (1979). "Improving College Teaching: An Evaluation of a Teaching Consultation Procedure." Journal of Higher Education 50:670-83.

    Irby, D. M. (1983). "Peer Review of Teaching in Medicine." Journal of Medical Education 58:457-61.

    Joyce, B. and B. Showers. (1982). "The Coaching of Teaching." Educational Leadership 40:4- 10.

    Menges, R. J. (1987). "Colleagues as Catalysts for Change in Teaching." To Improve the Academy 6:83-93.

    Meyer, J. F. and T. Gray. (1996). "Peer Coaching: An Innovation in Teaching." Teaching in the Community Colleges (Electronic) Journal 1(3)

    Millis, B. J. (1992). "Conducting Effective Peer Classroom Observations." To Improve the Academy 11:189-201.

    (1994). "Forging the Ties That Rind: Peer Mentoring PaR-Time Faculty." New Di- rections for Teaching and Learning 57:73-80.

    Munro, P. and J. Elliott. (1987). Instruvtioual Growth through Peer Teaching. ERIC Docu- ment Reproduction Service ED 279 617, no city given.

    Spencer, P. A. (1992). Improving Teacher EvaluatCxrn. ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED 342 439, Riverside, CA.

    Spencer, P. A. and M. L. Flyr. (1992). The Formal Evaluation as an lmpvtus to Classroom Change: Myth or Reality? ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED 349 053, River- side, CA.

    Weimer, M. (1990). Improving College Teaching: Strate~es for Developing Instructional Ef- fectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    (1993). Improving Your Classroom Teaching. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

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