When Educators Design Their Own Professional Development: A Yearlong Case Study of High School Teachers’ Peer Observations




Salerno, Patricia Jane

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A group of educators directed their own learning by creating a professional development experience involving peer observations. Professional development (PD) is complex and can be any activity aimed at improving teacher knowledge, enhancing practice, and increasing student achievement. A group of high school teachers gathered and met regularly to understand the complexities of PD and design a peer observation program for teachers at their school. The purpose of this qualitative instrumental case study was to understand this teacher-created PD as viewed by teachers. This was done by focusing on teachers’ participation within the PD, the impact of the PD, and the elements that are valued within the PD design. Data sources included written reflections, a questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews with teachers who participated in the PD experience as well as artifacts from those who created the PD. Data analysis revealed that there was an increase in the mean and range of peer observations between teachers’ set goals and the actual number they conducted. Additionally, while many teachers followed up with the teacher they observed, other forms of collaboration did not occur as a result of this PD. This analysis also revealed that the impact on teacher practice varied based upon the mode in which the peer observation was conducted. The perceived impact on students was mainly in regards to engagement, enjoyment, usability, and access to the information. Finally, the analysis revealed that teachers valued the cohesion within the PD experience and sought more collaboration with the experience. Implications from this study primarily affect two stakeholder groups: PD creators and school administrators. Throughout this study, one can see the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic as well as how this study and the teachers involved adapted.



Education, High school, Peer observations, Professional Development, Teacher created