Donal Evoy, Principal, Blackrock ETSS
Four Educate Together secondary schools are coming together to pilot an inter schools peer observation of teaching project. The four schools are: Blackrock ETSS, Harold’s Cross ETSS, Sandymount Park ETSS, and Goatstown Stillorgan ETSS. Each school has nominated a teacher to take part in the project: Miriam Barragry, Blackrock; Aoife Fleming, Sandymount Park; Lorraine Galvin, Harold’s Cross; and Brigit Cody, Goatstown Stillorgan.
The teachers will be paired up and they’ll observe each other teaching a lesson. For example, Miriam will observe Aoife teaching a lesson in Sandymount and then Aoife will observe Miriam teaching in Blackrock. Following the completion of the observations, Miriam and Aoife will meet up and share feedback with each other about their observations. The basic idea is that the whole experience will have a positive impact on participating teachers’ professional development which will in turn benefit teaching and learning in the classroom.
Following the completion of the peer observation and feedback sessions, the four participating teachers will meet collectively to identify the key points that were generated by their experiences. These points may relate to aspects of formative assessment or methodology or how to embed effective oracy strategies into teaching practices and so on.
Following the generation of these key points, the four teachers will aim to share a presentation of their experiences and key findings at a staff meeting in their respective schools. By sharing their insights and knowledge, our four participating teachers could potentially inspire others to reflect on their own professional practices. Moreover, they could inspire other teachers to take part in an expanded inter school project next year. A bigger project with more schools involved has the potential to have an extraordinarily positive impact on teacher professional development and collaboration.
Peer observation is nothing new and is already happening in a lot of post primary schools. What is unique about this project is the inter school dimension. Getting this project off the ground has only been possible because of the open minded and collaborative nature of our Educate Together teachers and principals. The willingness of our teachers to open up their classrooms to colleagues from other schools requires a spirit of adventure and innovation that is so characteristic of our Educate Together schools.