At the heart of peer observation is the ability for an instructor's peer to help them become aware of what they are and are not doing. Secondly, it is a tool for an instructor to gain advice and learn about techniques that can improve their performance in the classroom. Finally, it is a way for instructors to collaboratively set goals for themselves.
The Peer Teaching Observation cycle consists of four parts:
The goal of the pre-observation meeting is for the instructor and the observer to define how the instructor can benefit from an observation. The observer and the instructor will agree on a definition of success that the instructor hopes to achieve. Because of the many philosophies about the best way to teach a class, these observations will avoid analyzing the instructor's goals and methods unless that is what they specifically request.
The instructor and the observer will agree to target specific areas to focus on, as well as specific areas to avoid. By laying this out before hand, it helps the observer avoid focusing on giving advice that the instructor is already aware of, and instead targets specific areas in which the instructor wishes to improve.
At the completion of this stage, the observer should:
The goal of the observation is to create a clear description of the behaviors, techniques, and skills used by the instructor in the classroom.
When arriving at the classroom, it is best to arrive early and introduce yourself to the students.
It is the duty of the observer to diligently record all useful information that contributes to achieving the goals of the observation. There are several tools the observer can use:
Once the observation has been completed, the observer should write a summary of the observations, a short list of topics to discuss, and several suggested things to try doing differently. This summary can be given to the instructor as a report, or it can be used by the observer as notes to guide the conversation forward. This report is confidential and should not be given to anyone besides the instructor.
The goal of this second meeting is to create an action plan that lists new techniques, behaviors, or methods that the instructor could try implementing in their classroom. This is a formative, creative activity. As such, avoid telling the instructor the "right way" to teach their class. Don't list all the things they did right and wrong. Instead, interact with them to investigate their motivations, expectations, and skills.
In other words, always ask "What's the number one most useful thing this instructor could take away from this interaction?" The answer is not "Stop doing X, Y, and Z."
This is the recommended process for the post-observation meeting:
Once the meeting is over, it is the observer's responsibility to create a quick report for the OFD. This report will include only the following information:
At this stage, the responsibilities of the peer observer end.
The follow-up meeting is an essential component to this process. The goals are three-old: to assist the instructor in completing the action plan, to collect success stories that can be used to increase interest in this program, and to assess the observation process itself and find ways to improve it.
Harris-Barnett - Peer Observation and Feedback Guidelines (.pdf) (Includes Instructional Observation Forms 1 and 2)