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  2. 2. 4-9-2011PEER OBSERVATION: A REFLECTIVEMODELIntroductionManagement techniques such as an appraisal or peer observation have twoconnotations, and they can be taken positive or negative effect. In one hand, itcan be used as a tool to measure the staff development or job satisfaction. Incontrast, it can be used as arbitrary, threatening and judgmental. For these tworeasons, both observer and observee should have enough awareness about theimportance of the procedure in order to take advantage of this way evaluation.Appraisalthrough peer observationAccording to the author, there are two models in which one of them was appliedin USA and the teacher was responsible for these processes linked to paying.Second, an appraisal was carried out in UK where the teacher was responsiblefor this, and it was seen as mandatory.Wajnyb 1992, Richards and Nunan 1999, and Rawnsley as cited in Cosh, J.1999 pointed out that these models have been criticized due to the role of theobserver and the threatening nature of the process. The role of the teacher asassessing or judgment is one the most important difference about why thesemethods are criticized. The role of the teacher as an observer or observee istotality different in terms of what they do. When the role is to observe others,during a trainee course, they should learn from the others, but they seldom dothis task.Cosh comments that this type of method (peer observation) was implemented inthe department at the school of languages in Anglia Polytechnic Universitywhere the model did not work due to the perception of the teachers whobelieved that the observers made some form of assessment or judgment aboutthe teachers’ work. For this reason, the peer observation lost the objective forwhich was implemented. 1
  3. 3. 4-9-2011I think that teachers should play the role that they do best. For example, ifteachers are observers, they should have the adequate training according to therole. Otherwise, they should do just for learning from others but without take therole of facilitator or assessor. I agree with the author when she says that peerobservation becomes subjective due to the poor quality of the task. Peerobservation should be leaving aside the subjective judgment about the method,style or technique that every teacher does in the classroom. Peer observationshould be a tool for self-reflection in order to improve our teaching.Cosh appointed out that teachers who have the skill for doing this task; theyshould do this activity and others not. Otherwise, teachers with no preparationtended to be subjective and cause a defensive reaction on the observee but inthe other hand tended to do positive comments. These two positions do nothelp the nature of the process. Even more, when teachers know that they aregoing to be observed, they prepared a very good lesson that does not reflect aregular day of teaching. This causes a truncate view of the reality.Even though, the appraisal does not reflect the daily work of teaching becauseteachers prepare a model lesson, it is certain that they at least prepare theclass of that day. For example, when I record my class, for my video recording, Iattempt to follow a lesson plan, and I am worried about preparing each detail ofthe class. I know that after doing many repetitions the class can become acommon behavior for preparing my classes.‘Mutual building’ was coined in 1990s, and it consists on supporting the wholeteam as individual in order to reach professionalism. The challenge of thismodel is work together for avoiding unsuccessful lesson through improvingeach member of the team, by presenting a united front for facing externaljudgment or assessment. Each member of the team should be committed toproviding support between each other in order to gain self-confidence. Thequalities of each member of the team that they should have are: beingenthusiast, self-confidence, and awareness, self-value and desire to growprofessionally 2
  4. 4. 4-9-2011It is a great idea to work in a team like a single person, trying it as a team, but atthe same time as an individual. We need, as a teacher, the support from agroup of people with similar objectives such as enthusiasm, confidence, anddesire to question anything. This could be a great work, but there is a problem. Iam usually not negative, but the problem is that Mexican culture cannot work ina team and exists envied among the members of the team and this causes thatthe objectives are not attained. However, it is possible work together with acoworker, classmate, colleague or friend with the same teaching objectives.Further models of peer observationThere are models that propose peer observation through colleagues with anegotiated agreement between them in order to give a constructive feedback.Other models discuss the possibility of peer observation through coworkers; twoor more teachers who work together and have a discussion area of mutualinterest but with a well defined plan (Whisker 1996). The last, teachers watch aprevious videoed lesson with a discussion area of mutual interest and proposefuture development (Claydon and McDowell 1993).In my point of view, clearly when someone is conscious about improving theteaching process, he or she is capable of accepting feedback of others,especially when the activity is not imposed. It is much better emphasizing onimplementing best practices of teaching through the feedback of others.Experienced teacher can do this better than novice teachers, especially if theobservee is the novice and the observer is one with more experience. This formworks well because of the teacher with more experience do not acceptfeedback so easier than the novice teacher; they feel offended. In the otherhand, novice teacher accepts all recommendations of their pair because theyfeel more committed in becoming a professional very soon.Reflectiveapproach 3
  5. 5. 4-9-2011Cosh appointed out, that the main objective of this approach is to encourageself-reflection and self-awareness instead of judging the teaching role. Thoseteachers, who are convinced about the objective of this process, learn by thestyle of other teachers. This learning process is useful for reassessing theteaching process, stimulates awareness, reflection, questioning approach, andprovoke experimenting techniques that it seems difficult to implement.The implementation of the reflective peer observation process has to consider,between the observer and observe, what points should be observed, what isgoing to be the focus of the observation and who is going to observe. Inaddition, teachers should have a certain point of control in order to feelthemselves comfortable for the peer observation process.In conclusion, in my point of view there are two ways in which a teacher canlearn and improve their teaching process. These two ways are through peerobservation and self-observation both with a focus on reflection. I believe for asuccessful peer observation process, that permits to gain self-awareness andself-development in order to improve our labor about teaching, is to beconscious about the fact that there are many things that can be improved. Weshould leave aside prejudices, judgments and fears about being observed ofcourse taking into account that the most effective way of becoming aprofessional teacher is by the feedback of others even thought by ourselvesthrough the peer observation approach.REFERENCESCosh, J. (1999). Peer observation: a reflective model. ELT Journal, 53 (1). 4