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Instructional Peer Coaching: Best Practices

Most Important!

The most important of our best practices is confidentiality. Nothing discussed between two peers should ever be shared without both parties' consent.

The second is to have fun!  The goal of this program is not only to develop better teachers, but also to create close relationships among RIO librarians.


“Partners need to meet before one partner teaches a class. There are at least six reasons for this meeting:

  •     The librarians need to begin to build trust and rapport.
  •     They need to establish times for the observation and the post-observation conferences.
  •     They need to share their respective teaching values.
  •     They need to establish ground rules for each partner's role in the coaching process.
  •     The instruction librarian needs to identify focus points to observe in the classroom.
  •     They must agree on the means for collecting and reporting back observation data.” (Levene)

“The pre-observation meeting is also a time to delineate expectations of one another. Partners need to verbalize fears about the process and examine what boundaries each partner needs to observe during the class and post-observation conference.” (Levene)

Observational Techniques

“A peer observer will ‘identify two compliments and two suggestions for improvement.’” (Snavely)

“One observation method that may be used is called scripting or mirroring. With this technique, the coach provides the instructor with times when certain activities or concepts are taught….Instructors may want their coach to provide this type of information to see how they divide the class time, how much time is actually spent on a concept, or how the instruction is organized.” (Levene)

“Another technique is a verbatim log or identification of selected focus points.” (Levene)

“Another method that can be used is a checklist of items that both partners have agreed upon. Appropriate items for the list are behaviors.” (Levene)

“The observer is encouraged to:

  •     Take careful notes during class-make a record of what happened
  •     Keep suggestions for improvement or change separate from documentation (in the margin)
  •     Pay attention to
    •         Organization of the class session, structure and flow
    •         Interaction with students during class, as well as before and after class
    •         Student involvement and engagement with the material the the library instructor (participation, note taking, asking questions, or inappropriate behaviors (sleeping, checking e-mail or other non-course material)
    •         Examples, explanations, stories, demonstrations, etc. used to convey content
    •         Teaching techniques, use of active learning elements and hands-on activities
    •         Use of technology
    •         Any issues with the physical environment that may have affected the students’ attention (could all the students hear easily? Was the classroom uncomfortable hot or cold?)” (Snavely)


“A post observation meeting...discussion might include these elements:

  •     Ask how the library instructor felt the class session went
    •         Ask for self-reflections on the success of the class
    •         Ask where the library instructor thought he/she might improve
  •     Discuss flow and structure of the class, organization, and content
  •     Discuss active learning components, teaching methods, etc.
  •     Share observations you have on how engaged the students seemed from your perspective
  •     Tell the library instructor what you saw as their teaching strengths
  •     Provide suggestions for improvement” (Snavely)

“During the post-observation session, the librarians who were observed take responsibility for leading the discussion.” (Levene)