Source: Glove, Clker, http://bit.ly/1CVSonk; Stick Figure, Clker, http://bit.ly/1JoIB83; Communication, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1COL8vj; Bubbles, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1DtbD4b; Guitar, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1IjeZOo; Lev Vygotsky, Wikimedia Commons, http://bit.ly/1LrYBf6
Hello there and welcome. In this lesson, we'll talk all about peer-to-peer coaching and begin to evaluate strategies that can help us incorporate them into our professional development plans. Let's begin.
I have a friend who's been giving guitar lessons to children for years. Recently, he was playing at a function, and he invited one of his former students to come up on stage and jam with him. The young man is now in his twenties. But I could clearly remember him from when he was about eight years old and plucking away at his guitar while my friend guided him. And now, here they were on stage, playing together as peers.
In order to better understand peer-to-peer coaching, we need to begin with an explanation of sociocultural learning theory. It's a theory that is linked to a Russian researcher named Lev Vygotsky. The gist of his work is that peers influence each other's learning. Also, an individual's cultural beliefs and attitudes affect learning and instruction.
There are three main focus areas of this theory. The first is that social interaction is the basis for learning. And he bases a great deal of this on how children acquire language, and that is by social interaction with adults.
Vygotsky believed that this happens even before children begin to develop. And it is those interactions with others that can help cognitive growth. He believed that the acquisition through social interactions is the key, and that these social interactions are all culturally-based.
His second focus is on modeling. He refers to more knowledgeable others and says they are important for promoting learning because they provide us a model for the desired learning and provide support. A more knowledgeable other is someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the targeted learner.
We take this into consideration every day when we are grouping children. But it's not just with peers. It can be a teacher, coach, parent, or even a computer.
His final focus is often referred to by teachers as finding the sweet spot. He states that learning occurs in the zone of proximal development. In this case, the zone is the area between a student's ability to complete a task with assistance from a more knowledgeable other and its ability to complete the task independently. This is important information to keep in mind when planning lessons and designing units.
Sociocultural theory indicates that language is the primary impetus for learning. Peer coaching and collaborative professional development are clearly rich with language. From the planning stages, to feedback, problem solving, to reflections, the use of language plays a huge role in the learning that takes place.
I would like to mention that this process has certainly been impacted by new technologies. But the fact remains the same. The exchange of ideas and the ability to communicate them with one another are essential to learning.
When you stop and think about an ordinary day from either a student or teacher's perspective, you begin to really get a sense of the role that language and social behavior play in cognitive development. Peer coaching and collaborative professional development are truly built on a foundation of communication and social behavior. And the result is learning.
If you are a teacher of any age group or content area, you know that this is true. Many teachers, like myself, believe that if they are talking, they are learning. As the facilitator of learning, you know that whether modeling, observing, demonstrating, or providing feedback, social interactions are unavoidable.
Access to knowledgeable others can be very beneficial when collaborating professionally and peer coaching. Often, one colleague's needs can be supported by a partner's strengths. I used to work with a special educator who was amazing at documentation, something that I never did well.
On the other hand, she often relied on me to help with classroom management. Our interactions led us to learn from one another, as we ventured into areas that made us uncomfortable. In sociocultural learning theory, the more knowledgeable other is not doing a task for the partner, but rather with a learner who cannot complete the task independently. And that is when learning within the zone of proximity occurs.
So now it's time to summarize what we covered today. We introduced Lev Vygotsky in a sociocultural learning theory. We focused on three main points, social interactions, more knowledgeable others, and zone of proximal development.
And now for today's food for thought. Are you a knowledgeable other? Do you have a knowledgeable other? If not, how can you get one?
Now, it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want.
Thanks for joining me. We'll see you next time.
(00:14-00:35) Playing Guitar
(00:36-02:18) Sociocultural Learning Theory
(03:29-04:08) Peer Coaching
(04:09-04:53) Summary/Food For Thought
3-3. Peer Coaching
This page provides an overview of and steps for implementing peer coaching.
Handouts and Articles on Classroom Observation, Peer Coaching, and Mentoring
These handouts and articles provide useful resources for developing and implementing a peer coaching model based on adult learning theories.