A confidential, peer-to-peer program, peer coaching provides a unique opportunity to enrich and enhance your teaching practice. A peer coach from outside your discipline visits and observes your class, paying special attention to three focal areas that you identify, and then shares his or her observations as you strategize effective solutions together.
The 3 Steps
The Peer Coaching process has three steps:
- First Conversation
- Class Visit
- Reflection and Debrief
You can sign up by filling out our quick form. Once we receive your request and we assign a peer coach to you, he or she will be in contact. We will keep you updated along the way.
Download our handy PDF describing the peer coaching process:
Alternatively you can read about the process below.
As with all CTE activities, we adhere to the following principles:
- Peer Coaching is voluntary, initiated only by the faculty member.
- Peer Coaching is confidential.
- The CTE does not provide any recommendations or information for the purposes of tenure and promotion decisions.
- Peer Coaching is formative only. Its purpose is to improve the instructor's teaching and student learning.
- As always, if a faculty members wishes to have evidence that they've participated in CTE events or used CTE services, we will gladly provide it.
Step 1: First Conversation
The first conversation meeting has four goals:
- To explain the process in detail so you have clear expectations and understand that your faculty peer is there as a coach and supporter, and not as the teaching police.
- To give your peer coach needed context and background information about the course.
- To allow you to formulate your three highest priority issues. What do you want the faculty peer to help you address in your teaching?
- To give your peer coach a road-map for the class visit.
Towards those ends, you can expect the following types of questions to be asked by your peer coach:
- What is the overall purpose of the course?
- What's going well?
- What are you working to improve?
- What three things would you like me to look for?
The types of things you want a peer coach to focus on need to be specific and well-defined. Below we give a small sampling of some focal areas faculty have asked their peers to focus on for a specific class observation. This is only a small sample. You may identify any number of other focal areas.
- Time management: I only have 65 minutes three times per week and I never get through my class plan.
- Student engagement: I would like to increase student participation, but my class is primarily lecture based.
- Flipped classroom newbie: I just started flipping a few sessions of my class, I would like feedback on how I'm doing using this pedagogy.
- Physical obstacles: My class is structured in a lecture hall with immobile seats, how can I increase collaborative group work under these physical constraints?
- Classroom discussions: In my classes a few students always dominate discussion time and a few never raise their hands to speak, I want help getting everyone's voice heard.
- Mixed levels: I have majors/non majors, masters/doctoral level, freshmen/seniors mixed in my class. How do I make the assignments work to challenge both levels fairly?
- Getting class started: I feel confident in my abilities to teach the subject, but I have trouble finding a good place to start/intro the day.
- Technology in the classroom: I want to make better use of clickers, PowerPoint, Google apps, iPads, YouTube, etc. (e.g., I want to know when/how to use one of these tools better).
Step 2: The Class Visit
The peer coach will come to a class meeting where you've mutually decided on the best date for an observation. The focus of the peer coach will only be on the 2-3 focal points you've identified so that they can give specific objective information at your subsequent reflection and debrief meeting.
Step 3: Reflection and Debrief
The peer coach and you will meet within a week after the class visit. Based on the specific information and examples observed in the class visit, the goal is to mutually problem-solve how to improve your effectiveness in those three focal areas.
Ongoing Professional Practice
The Peer Coaching process identifies three specific points of focus. In turn this means it's a great tool to use on a consistent basis: once a semester, once a year, or once every two years. Whatever the cycle, your specific needs and points of focus will likely change as you grow as a educator, or based on the specific course and students you are working with in any given semester.
If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of peer coaching, check out our reading list.