“Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers.” ~ Richard Bach
Teaching is arguably the most important career of them all. Given its importance, it’s distressing that we have an ongoing teacher shortage in the United States that’s driven, at least in part, by teachers feeling they don’t get the support and encouragement they need.
At Alludo, we’re big believers in finding new ways to provide teachers with the support and appreciation they deserve. One way to help teachers is by providing teacher peer coaching or peer mentoring. Mentor/mentee relationships can make teaching less stressful and more fulfilling.
With that in mind, here’s our take on how you can support your district’s teachers with a teacher professional development peer coaching and mentoring model.
Table of Contents
- What is PD Peer Coaching and Mentoring?
- Benefits of Peer Coaching and Mentoring
- What is the Importance of PD Peer Coaching and Mentoring?
- How Do You Structure a PD Peer Coaching and Mentorship Program?
- Alludo's Take
- Implement a Teacher PD Peer Coaching and Mentoring Model in Your District
What is PD Peer Coaching and Mentoring?
Let’s begin with a definition of peer coaching and mentoring. Simply stated, a teacher peer coaching relationship involves two or more colleagues who work together. One colleague is usually the mentor while the other is the mentee, although peer coaching can also work in both directions.
The participants in the relationship may do a variety of things, including the following:
- Reflect on current classroom practices and performance
- Build new skills
- Share ideas
- Conduct classroom research
These activities may be formal or informal and each mentoring relationship is unique. It’s important for the relationship to serve the needs of the person being mentored since each individual teacher will bring different experiences, skills, and challenges to the table.
Ideally, the mentor and mentee should be partnered because the mentor has skills or experience that differ from those of the mentee. They may have things in common and that can be helpful when building trust.
Benefits of Peer Coaching and Mentoring
There are many benefits that can accrue to all participants in a mentoring relationship. Here are some of the most important.
Increases Camaraderie and Engagement
Camaraderie among teachers is an essential component of job satisfaction and can help to reduce teacher burnout and turnover. Mentoring and peer coaching relationships can improve teacher engagement and make teachers feel they are part of a professional support network.
Boosts Leadership Ability
Leadership skills are a must in any classroom but some teachers – particularly new teachers – may struggle to manage their classrooms. Being in a mentoring relationship can help them learn from more experienced teachers and gain the leadership skills they need to connect with their students.
Empowers Teachers to Learn New Skills
The best educators are perpetual students but teachers who feel burned out may shut themselves off to new ideas and skills. The right peer coaching relationship can inspire teachers to learn new things and, best of all, to put what they learn to work for the benefit of their students.
Makes Teachers Feel Supported
A lack of regular feedback and support is a major contributing factor to teacher burnout. Encouraging peer coaching and mentoring relationships among educators is one of the best ways we know to prevent burnout and reduce teacher turnover.
What is the Importance of PD Peer Coaching and Mentoring
Now that we’ve defined what peer coaching and mentoring is, let’s talk about the three reasons that PD peer coaching and mentoring is essential.
#1 Peer Relationships Can Help Teachers Overcome Hesitancy to Implement Changes
Change can feel scary or overwhelming, particularly when it runs contrary to what teachers are accustomed to doing in the classroom. Inexperienced teachers as well as experienced educators may find themselves reluctant to try new things.
Peer coaching relationships, when combined with professional development, can help teachers overcome their hesitancy and lean into changes. Experienced teachers can share their experiences with change and how it has benefited them professionally – as well as how it has benefited their students. Since improving student outcomes is the most important thing for teachers, it stands to reason that they will be eager to embrace changes that will contribute to that goal.
#2 Mentors Provide Positive Solutions to Challenges That Teachers Bring Up or That Mentors Observe
Every teacher, whether they’ve been teaching for a few months or many years, faces challenges in the classroom. Addressing these challenges as they arise is a must if teachers are to improve professionally and get the best possible outcomes for their students.
Mentors are there to listen to teachers talk about their challenges and to observe them in the classroom. In either case, they can provide positive solutions based on their professional experience and what they have learned in PD, giving their mentees the tools and support they need.
#3 Mentors Can Assist in Implementing School Initiatives, Skill Sets, or Administrative Agendas
Finally, mentors play an essential role in implementing school initiatives, bolstering new skills, and meeting school and district goals. Professional learning may need a boost in the form of personal support and guidance.
For example, a district rolling out a new technology initiative may find that some teachers struggle with the technology or are reluctant to use it. Mentor and peer coaching can help them get to a place where they’re comfortable and even enthusiastic about the initiative.
How Do You Structure a PD Peer Coaching and Mentorship Program?
There’s more than one way to structure a PD peer coaching and mentoring program in your school district. One popular model is the Triad Model, which provides maximum support and feedback for teachers while respecting their time. It can work with any professional learning model.
What is the Triad Model?
The Triad Model is ideal for providing peer coaching because it gives each teacher the benefit of learning from two others. Three teachers are on each mentoring team, with each taking turns as a mentor and a mentee.
What we like about this model is that it provides different perspectives on any potential problem or initiative. Teachers get to experience the coaching relationship from both sides. When one teacher is acting as the coach, the other two operate as peers and benefit from the coach’s perspective and experience. Then, the roles are switched, so each teacher participates fully in the relationship.
Investment for the Triad Model
Cost is often a concern for school districts when designing and launching a new PD system. One of the things that makes the Triad Model appealing is that the biggest investment is teachers’ time.
We should note here that teachers who are feeling overworked or even burned out may be resistant to the idea of investing more time in anything job-related. We have found that teachers spend only half their time in the classroom while putting in additional hours at home to grade students’ work, design lesson plans, and participate in PD.
The key to succeeding with the Triad Model is to respect teachers’ time. For example, with the Alludo model, lessons are provided in the form of microlearning activities that may take as little as 10 minutes to complete. Teachers can complete an activity in their own time and then use digital tools to discuss the lesson, share challenges, and brainstorm solutions.
It’s our belief that the Triad Model can be implemented within any PD system or framework. It’s a cost-effective way for school districts to augment professional learning in pursuit of new initiatives and goals while providing teachers with the support and constructive feedback they need to serve their students.
At Alludo, we specialized in creating an online asynchronous learning environment for school districts across the United States. Our focus is on providing teachers with a choice and a voice in what they learn and how they learn it. The system we have created comes with a huge catalog of curated resources and microlearning activities. We’ve added gamification and built-in rewards to drive teacher engagement.
The school districts who use our platform love that it offers the opportunity to work with many types of professional development for teachers – and that includes peer coaching and mentoring. We’ve recently added Message Boards to our platform, which are ideal for building and fostering mentor/mentee relationships among teachers.
Incorporating peer mentoring into our online professional learning platform is inexpensive and effective. Mentoring provides support and encouragement to teachers, boosting retention and reducing burnout.
Mentoring ties directly to our learner-centered approach. Each educator has the option to self-direct their learning to gain new teaching skills and deliver better outcomes for their students. The personalized approach is ideal for building coaching relationships that can help teachers overcome their struggles and excel in their jobs.
Best of all, using a peer coaching and mentoring model benefits students. It increases student engagement, improves test scores and GPAs, and reduces dropout rates. These are all things that teachers love.
Implement a Teacher PD Peer Coaching and Mentoring Model in Your District
Every school district can benefit from implementing a teacher PD peer coaching and mentoring model. Teachers deserve to get regular feedback and ongoing support and a peer-to-peer program can augment administrative support and ensure that teachers know that their work is valued – and that they’re making a difference in the lives of their students.
Experience personalized learning for all levels of educators with a free trial of Alludo’s professional development platform. You’ll enjoy:
- Hundreds of core topics
- Asynchronous microlearning activities
- Timely and specific feedback
- Analytics that show learning impact
- Access anytime, anywhere
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