I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
Guest Blogger Candice DePrang
A peer review program introduced in Toledo, Ohio in 1981 moved a little closer to home about ten years ago. Yesterday’s Washington Post article profiled the progress of Montgomery County’s Peer Assistance and Review Program, “that identifies struggling teachers and tries to help them improve.”
Peer review is just one of the many answers to poor behavior management skills and low performing students that characterize the classroom of a struggling teacher. Paramount to the transformation of peer review programs are mentors that supply their mentees with promising practices based on rigorous research. Teachers need excellent examples of these practices modeled in context, with a chance to demonstrate their improvement over time. Districts seeking to improve student outcomes by increasing teacher quality through a peer review program will realize the culture shift “from 'gotcha' to support” that currently exists in local administrations. Strengthening the culture means strengthening the teachers with evidence based research practices – not necessarily intuition or the solely stories of other classrooms– to help them establish and sustain a structure in their classroom that creates a space where students learn.