Hi Kassidy, I don't know of a study that explores this question rigorously, but I see two things to consider. My thinking is, however, that when possible,a trained instructional coach will be more effective simply because they know more about coaching and instructional strategies. If I have developed expertise in High-Impact Instruction, and I have mastered effective communication and questioning skills, and I understand the complexities adult learning, I'll likely be a more effective coach than someone who has not learned those skills.
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I think they are both different and valuable forms of receiving feedback. One thing I would consider is the purpose. Having a peer observation model is great for alignment within grades as well as vertical alignment school-wide. It can also be helpful to have fresh eyes on you during your teaching to provide an opportunity for questions and feedback. Whereas a more formal coach might be looking at something specific over time and observe you on an ongoing, regular basis with opportunities for longer term goal setting.
We trained a core group of experienced educators as observers and began the experience very cautiously. We had them ONLY document positive observations that corresponded to the state's evaluation rubric. For the first set of observations all notes were sent to Instructional Coach for approval/suggestions then forwarded to teacher. By mid-year, a document noting teachers that excelled in specific areas of rubric was created. All teachers had equal an number of areas noted. This document was shared with faculty as a resource to use for self-improvement. The experience was initially uneasy for both observers and those observed. At the end of the year all those involved felt comfortable and very positive about the experience. This experience raised the level of community and collaboration in our faculty more than anything we have tried.
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