I am working with two really inspiring colleges on encouraging peer sharing visits between teachers. They are working very thoughtfully to encourage this in ways that teachers will feel comfortable and safe to engage in, far from the realms of graded observation horror. Despite all the pressures on time and the strain in the sector at present, this seems to me to be a valuable enterprise. The teachers in these colleges will visit a colleague in class, looking for thought provoking practice to reflect on and explore. They won’t be going to assess or judge or grade their colleague. How truly liberating! What a space to think in….
I have learned so much from sitting in a colleague’s class and discussing it afterwards in an informal, free and professional conversation. I have seen how challenging it is to keep learners engaged and what a buzz can occur when it does. This has inspired me to try harder in my own work with learners and focus on different aspects of the process of teaching and learning. I have seen numerous novel and effective activities that I have adapted for use in my own classes, enriching my toolkit. And I have reflected on my own use of questioning and monitoring and altered my practice as a result, developing it further. The experiences of visiting a peer have helped me to learn and grow. I think that peer visits/observation is something to be fostered, encouraged and enabled in all institutions of learning. Even if it has to take place in the cracks and crevices between more formal college activities I think it is worth our attention.
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