08/01/05 — Peer coaching program involves 170 teachers

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Peer coaching program involves 170 teachers

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 1, 2005 1:45 PM

More than 170 teachers in Wayne County Public Schools work with their peers as coaches.

The peer coaching program began in the school system in 1996 and has grown increasingly popular among educators as an individual professional development tool.

The goal of the program is for teachers to meet objectives each of them define at the start of the school year. The teachers are held accountable through their professional portfolio of student progress and data on student academic performance.

Many say the self-reflective and supportive process helps them sharpen their teaching skills.

"You really have to prove what you've done," said Christy Klein, an exceptional children's teacher at Charles B. Aycock High School. "It's a way to self-reflect and make yourself grow as a teacher.

Her peer coach, Vivian Echols, an exceptional children's teacher at Spring Creek High School, agreed. Because they face many of the same challenges, peer coaching has been beneficial in expanding the scope of their skills.

The two said the program has helped eliminate some of the feelings of isolation, while promoting self-sufficiency.

Recently, Sally Pope and Shirley Richardson, lead teachers for human resources in the school system, led training sessions for several new peer coaches. Both can appreciate the program because they have experienced it firsthand as peer coaches themselves for many years.

Ms. Pope said she has enjoyed teaching others how to get the same benefits from the program that she received.

"Once I decided what my goal was, I really could concentrate on improving something," she said. "It's like an end product. If you have to produce something to show, you're going to be doing things to fulfill that goal."

"The program allows teachers to self-evaluate through reflecting on their teaching practices and to transform techniques and procedures that would ensure student growth," Ms. Richardson said.

While built on the idea of teachers coaching one another, the program also encourages teachers to become coaches for their students. Officials say teachers who elect to pursue such a course also model for their students the concept of being a life-long learner.