01 SES 01 A, Teacher Learning in Lesson Study and Peer Observation
In this communication we discuss the complex and entangled contributions to school improvement of continued participation of teachers in a multidisciplinary and collaborative peer observation of teaching programme. Collegial practices of peer observation of teaching have the potential to contribute to teachers' learning and to school improvement through improved classroom practices and collective ownership (Visone, 2019). However, this and other collective learning practices are still far from being common practice in Portuguese schools and pose one of the main challenges to be faced in school-level policies and practices (Liebowitz, González, Hooge & Lima, 2018). The national education policy in Portugal has been one of favouring school and teacher autonomy and flexibility in curriculum and classroom management in an effort of trying to break with a long-term tradition of strict and closed disciplinary teaching in which teachers rarely collaborated in interdisciplinary teaching and projects (OECD, 2018).
In this context, considering the benefits described on peer observation for the educational improvement (Hendry & Oliver, 2012; Shortland, 2010) a model of peer observation of teaching ongoing for several years in a Portuguese university (Torres, Lopes, Valente, & Mouraz, 2017), was adapted to be implemented in basic and secondary education. After five years of consistent development of the program in two school clusters from the North part of Portugal, a study of the programmes’ development and effects in these schools was organized.
School clusters in Portugal can comprise two or more premises of schools offering from pre-school to upper secondary education levels with a common management structure. In the present study, one school cluster offered pre-school until lower secondary education and the other offered all school levels until upper secondary education. Furthermore, these school clusters have been subjected to an external school evaluation process, from which they have been strongly advised to put in place processes of collaborative pedagogical teacher supervision as a path towards school improvement. So, the school’s engagement in the proposed programme was a coherent and conscious effort to embark on a quality improvement path. But this is not a common trajectory in schools in Portugal, as most don’t have ongoing processes of collaborative supervision less to say programmes in which teachers engage in peer observation in teaching, as class observation is still much negatively associated with teacher quality attainment and teacher professional progression.
In this analysis, we address intertwined issues of teachers' learning and school improvement. Our study’s research question is «How does teacher learning through collaborative processes of peer observation of teaching reshape school climate, specifically in the institutional self-image of quality practices?». The objectives this communication are to: describe the model of collaborative peer observation of teaching; discuss reconfigurations of school’s climate resulting from the engagement of teachers in programme; and present the contributions of collaborative peer observation of teaching model for in-service teacher learning
The program that this study is based on implied a voluntary and symmetrical participation of teachers in which all of them, grouped in multidisciplinary quartets, had to observe their peers’ classes, and be observed in their classes. The observation process is organized in three phases: pre-observation, observation and post-observation. In the pre-observation phase, lesson plans, lesson objectives and other relevant information are shared. In this phase, the focus of observation is chosen by the observed teacher. The next phase concerns the observation of the class. During the observation, the two observers fill out an observation guide. This observation guide consists of five dimensions: structure, organization, content, class climate and the teacher's attitude. Each of these dimensions is made up of a set of descriptors that should be assessed, on a scale of 1 to 5, about their greater or lesser presence in the observed class. In each of the descriptors there is also space for writing qualitative comments on the observed class. In the last phase, post-observation, there is a joint reflection carried out by the quartet on the observation carried out, in which the perceptions about the observed class are shared and suggestions for improvement are made. This process is repeated in three observation cycles. This approach in three observation cycles, allows the participants to be able to implement, in a supported way, the changes they want in their teaching practices. After five years of consistent implementation of the program in two school clusters, we carried out an evaluation of the effects that the project has been having on the practices of teachers, students and at the institutional level. To meet this objective, two semi-structured interviews were conducted with teachers who participate in the project and who are, simultaneously, interlocutors in their respective schools. These interviews had as main aims: a) to collect personal and professional data of the participant; b) collect data on the level of participation in the program; c) identify the participants' perspectives on the effects of the program at the individual level and d) identify the participants' perspectives on the effects of the program at the institutional level. These interviews were analyzed using content analysis (Bardin, 2011) with the support of the NVivo software. The analysis was based on the definition of emerging categories (Amado, 2013), through which it is important to highlight the key aspects that stand out in the interviewees' speeches.
Through the interviews with teachers, we conclude that school´s climate has been reconfigured upon the implementation of programme in four dimensions: improvement of classroom climate, acknowledgement of the pedagogical work from peers of different disciplinary areas, improvement of educational community’s perception about school quality and teacher’s work, and the promotion of more positive interpersonal relationships among teachers. According to our interviewees the scholar climate improved, through the improving relations between teachers, the perception of school community's about the pedagogical quality and the valuing the work of colleagues from other disciplines. This improvement in the school climate contributed to increase collaborative work, especially between different disciplines, which was essential for the creation of bridges between disciplines and contents. The interviewees report also the improvement of personal relationships between teachers through the observation of classes. Observation processes increase the appreciation of the disciplines and practices of teachers, create a relationship of complicity and trust between participating teachers and help the integration of new teachers in school. An important improvement in the classroom climate during the observation processes is described, students show motivation and commitment during observations. In addition, the observation process had impact on the development of transversal skills of students, through the multidisciplinary component, students acquired a new perspective on their teachers and on own formation, in the sense that they began to see them in a more plural way. These results will be discussed in the communication, starting from how the mutual perception of teachers in a peer observation context contributes to personal and institutional changes. The study’s relevance resides in understanding how teachers mediate and translate the pedagogical practices of each other. This understanding is crucial to map and further develop the collaborative work of teaching and build new nodes on networking professional career.
Amado, J. (2013). Manual de Investigação Qualitativa em Educação. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra. Bardin, L. (2011). Análise de Conteúdo. Lisboa: Edições 70. Hendry, G. D. & Oliver, G. R. (2012) Seeing is Believing: The Benefits of Peer Observation, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9:1, 1-9. Liebowitz, D., González, P., Hooge, E., & Lima, G. (2018). OECD Review of School Resources: Portugal 2018. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/portugal/oecd-reviews-of-school-resources-portugal-2018-9789264308411-en.htm OECD (2018). Curriculum flexibility and autonomy in Portugal – an OECD Review. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/education/2030/Curriculum-Flexibility-and-Autonomy-in-Portugal-an-OECD-Review.pdf Shortland, S. (2010) Feedback within peer observation: continuing professional development and unexpected consequences, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47:3, 295-304, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2010.498181 Torres, A. C., Lopes, A., Valente, J. M. S., & Mouraz, A. (2017) What catches the eye in class observation? Observers’ perspectives in a multidisciplinar peer observation of teaching program, Teaching in Higher Education, 22 (7), 822-838. Visone, J., 2019. What teachers never have time to do: peer observation as professional learning. Professional Development in Education, DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2019.1694054.
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