Peer Collaboration Assignment
At least twice during the semester you will make arrangements with a peer to observe and share deliberation about each other’s practice. One of these collaborative meetings will involve you inviting a fellow student teacher into your classroom. The other will have you going out to spend time in another’s classroom. The expectation is that you will open your practice to a peer once, and you will leave your classroom to collaborate with another peer once. If you find these conferences helpful, you can find the time in your schedules, and your cooperating teachers consent, you are welcome to set up other collaborative meetings.
These collaborations should follow the same format used when your Field Instructor makes a visit to your school– pre-conference, observation, and post conference. You may find it helpful to the program’s pre-observation forms, or you can establish your own procedures. Whatever you do, your efforts should be directed toward careful examination of, and collaborative inquiry around, social studies teaching and learning practice.
You are free to choose the site you visit based on what you feel would be most beneficial. Factors to consider when planning an observation include: the school setting (e.g. urban, rural, alternative. . .), grade level, curriculum content and methods, relationships among you and your fellow student teachers, what you know about the different ways your peers think of social studies, structure (block vs. period scheduling, team vs. individual teaching arrangements), etc. You should select sites for good educational reasons rather than convenience.
There are several reasons why this assignment is part of the student teaching experience. First, peer collaborations should encourage professional dialogue. Student teaching (like inservice teaching) can be an isolating experience. Opening lines of communication can provide support and give you ideas that can help you improve your practice. Second, by getting outside of your own school site, you develop a greater appreciation for diversity among the different school settings you are likely to encounter in your career. Third, reflective teaching and collaborative inquiry are both “core themes” of our social studies education program. The dialogue created by peer-observations should expand your opportunities for reflection. This assignment is meant to highlight the power of reflection when done collaboratively. As well, these collaborative visits are not conducted by someone who is officially evaluating your work. So you may find it easier to talk freely about concerns. Finally, just finding some time apart from your own classroom and engaging with outsider’s perspectives on the same can yield new insights into your developing practice.
For each peer collaboration in which you participate (either as the visitor or as the visited), you will be expected to write a several page, thoughtful report of the peer collaboration. These reports should be shared with your both your ST Seminar Instructor and Field Instructor. You do not need to share this report with your peer-collaboration partner, but you are welcome to do so if you so choose. Your report should address the following questions:
1) Very briefly describe the context for the visit by addressing the school setting, subject, lesson, instructional methods, and how you structured your collaboration.
2) What insights did you gain from the shared deliberation with your colleague?
3) What aspects of your rationale did the peer collaboration help you think about more deeply?
4) What questions did the peer collaboration raise about particular features of the SURGE! Framework?
5) Was peer collaboration experience worthwhile to you? Why or why not?
Check with your Student Teaching Seminar Instructor for due dates.