As I write this, there are 44 comments on Heather’s post from yesterday about “when student evaluations are just plain wrong.” It should comes as no surprise to any of us, I think, that this topic invites so much attention. Students are the people who observe our teaching more than anyone else, but they’re not exactly unbiased observers. (Of course, there’s probably no such thing as a completely unbiased observer... but you get my point.)
Why not invite some of your peers to observe your teaching, too, and give you some feedback? And in return, you could offer to do the same thing for them. I know that many of our readers have extremely full schedules, so finding the time to do this might prove something of a challenge. But if you can do it, there are several advantages:
- As the one being observed, you can receive some extremely valuable feedback from a peer. Someone with at least as much teaching experience as you will be able to identify the things you do well and to provide you with advice about what might need improvement.
- Instead of only relying upon student evaluations for feedback, you’ll have feedback from a different perspective. If your peer observer could write up a one-page set of observations about your teaching, then that document can go into your professional file as additional evidence of your teaching effectiveness.
- As the one doing the observing, you have the opportunity to gather some new ideas about effective teaching. We all have our ways of instructing, but we don’t always realize that some method, procedure, exercise, or assignment that we think is obvious and not particularly exciting could be extremely useful to one of our fellow instructors.
I’ve participated in peer observations several times over the years--both as observer and observed--and I’ve always found something useful in the process.
What about you? Have you ever observed one of your peers’ teaching and then provided feedback? Or have you asked a peer to observe your teaching and give you feedback? Let’s hear from you in the comments!