Les Barclay Peer Observation Story

Les Barclay, English Language Centre

This was not a topic I would have come up with on my own, and it is less interesting to me that the topic of technology with which I was immersed in the previous year.

I was at first indifferent, then ambivalent partly due to the fact that I was not actually teaching in the classroom in 2015, which made peer observation a rather one-sided activity. I knew what it was from teacher training and other previous experiences.

So with the new action group formed with my CLTE colleagues, I more or less tagged along. In 2015 I could not be observed as I was not teaching, but I was able to observe another teacher and participate in the process from that perspective. This was valuable.

In 2016, back in the classroom and in a similar position to another colleague in the action group, I was able to participate in a full exchange of teaching observation, and pre and post consultations.

At this point I realized that the process is not burdensome or stressful (for me). Maybe a total of 2 or 3 hours is enough for one cycle.

The insights of my observer were valuable in that they provided a detailed picture of my teaching that I wasn’t seeing, or had forgotten.

Teaching is often a lonely profession where we don’t really know what is going on inside other classrooms.

Peer observation provides the opportunity to see inside these other classrooms and collaborate with and support teaching colleagues outside of our own department. In this way it has value from different perspectives.

I will try to introduce and hopefully embed Peer Observation at VIU in my own department.