Bryan Webber Peer Observation Story

Bryan Webber, Management

I joined the Council to provide myself with a structured space for opportunities to further develop my teaching skills. While I have graduate education in learning, I don’t have formal training in teaching and consequently, I’ve a bit of the imposter syndrome when it comes to being a teacher.

I’ve found myself at times insecure about my abilities and for that reason, when we’ve had ‘open classroom’ events, I’ve been unwilling to have others come in and see what I do.

The Peer Observation project was a chance to directly address that and to challenge my insecurity with real information. I believed that it would provide me with a guided process that would remove unreasoned fears and gain valuable perspectives that could positively inform what I do.

After an initial orientation, I have been participating in multiple peer observation pairings this year; in each case a colleague and I will take turns observing teaching and providing feedback to the other.

What has been most interesting is that in addition to the excellent feedback I get from my colleagues, I have found that my involvement in this project has raised my overall attentiveness to my preparation and practice.

In the process, the “observees” define what we want our observers to pay attention to, something we want to focus on for development.

In reflecting on what I want to work on, and how it’s related to the outcomes I want for students, I have greatly increased the understanding of what I’m trying to do and why, and consequently I’ve been able to make improvements based on my own reflection as well.

A benefit I did not expect was that in watching others teach, and in the feedback sessions where we often end up in rich discussions about teaching, there’s a substantial opportunity to learn from others.

So I find myself making changes in my practice, not just from the feedback given to me about what I’m doing, and from taking a more intentional view of my own process, but also based on what I see others doing that I want to incorporate.

I’ve been so pleased with how it’s freed me up from some of that insecurity and given me so much more useful information about teaching to work with, I’m already considering how to adapt this as a regular part of my teaching semesters.