Feedback and Learning for All Involved: Peer Observations – FAAR

As part of our formative Faculty Assessment and Annual Review (FAAR) plan, we engage in a process of peer observations.  There are several ways this can be accomplished.  In its simplest form, we are to observe two of our colleagues – one in our department and one not in our department – and write a strength-based observation.  There are many points to this strand of our formative assessment plan.  Peer observations offer us the opportunity to learn from each other and to learn more about each other and our craft.

I was lucky enough to be observed teaching learners Algebra I by nine of my peers.  Seven of my colleagues completed the strength-based observation form to provide me with written feedback.  The observation process happens in different ways.  I asked GJ, MC, JA, and JG to observe my class of learners hiding in plain sight.  TM, FY, and TK asked if they could come observe me.  BC, DD and I work as a team.  We teach the same course; we are in each other’s classes all of the time.  We plan and learn together to help all of our learners.

There are many opinions and reactions to the peer observation process from my colleagues:

  • If it is only strength-based, will I learn anything from the observation?
  • Is the learning for the observed teacher or the observing teacher?
  • Who should submit the observation to the principal?
  • How will I have time to do the observation and then write it up?
I have asked for and been given permission from my colleagues to publish their feedback and observations.  I value the feedback of my colleagues.  I read and reread these observations to improve and learn.  I share them with you so that you can decide if these observations are valuable learning experiences for the teachers involved.  Did I learn?  Did the observing teacher learn?
MC serves as the 8th grade boys’ grade chair, and he teaches algebra.  I felt that I was struggling with my 7th period class and asked Mark to observe and advise.
GJ teaches 8th grade science, and we have many learners in common.  I asked him to observe for the same reasons.  There was the added benefit that we each learned something that connected our courses.

JA has a global view of Westminster as an alum, a faculty member, and a parent.

TM is new to Westminster this school year.

FY co-facilitates our History PLC.  We work in team at least once a week where we discuss learning, assessment, and curriculum.

TK is a former math teacher now working in our library.

Mark took the time to sit with me and debrief his observations and feedback during one of our planning periods.  Gary and I discuss our common learners and our curriculum regularly during our 4th period PLC.

  • Did will I learn anything from these observations? What about learning for the observed teacher or the observing teacher?
  • Is there any reason to not submit these observations to the principal?

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