A Case Study Exploring Teachers’ Experiences of Peer Observation of Teaching in a Post-Primary Context
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A transition towards teacher autonomy, teacher collaboration and context specific learning as foci of teacher professional development coupled with exposed weaknesses in traditional externally controlled professional learning led to the development of this case study research. The purpose of this study is to explore teachers’ experiences of peer observation of teaching in a single Post-Primary school in Ireland as a method of developing teacher pedagogical capacity. The literature critiqued encompasses peer observation of teaching, teacher professional development, professional learning communities, reflective practice and teacher leadership. A qualitative, inductive, cross-sectional, multi-method case study has been designed in response to the study’s research questions. Four participant pairs volunteered to engage in one peer observation of teaching session. A background-data gathering questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and reflection logs were implemented in the approach to data collection and data was subsequently analysed thematically. Emergent themes from the data suggests that peer observation leads to reflective practice which consequently results in personalised learning for both visiting and observed teachers. Peer observation appears to enhance staff collegiality, a professional learning community and individual teacher self-efficacy. The study also reveals openness as an attribute of teacher leaders. The research highlights that teachers require additional supports in developing their reflection skills and further research is required into the relationship between teacher reflection and CPD. The study further suggests that a longitudinal study into the impact of peer observation of teaching may be beneficial.
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