Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Volume 13, Issue 2
April 2007, pages 165 - 187
A considerable amount of literature on peer coaching suggests that the professional development of teachers can be improved through experimentation, observation, reflection, the exchange of professional ideas, and shared problem-solving. Reciprocal peer coaching provides teachers with an opportunity to engage in such activities in an integrated form. Even though empirical evidence shows effects of peer coaching and teacher satisfaction about coaching, the actual individual professional development processes have not been studied extensively.
This article offers a way to analyse and categorize the learning processes of teachers who take part in a reciprocal peer coaching trajectory by using the Interconnected Model of Teacher Professional Growth as an analytical tool. Learning is understood as a change in the teacher's cognition and/or behaviour. The assumption underlying the Interconnected Model of Teacher Professional Growth is that change occurs in four distinct domains that encompass the teacher's professional world: the personal domain, the domain of practice, the domain of consequence and the external domain. Change in one domain does not always lead to change in another, but when changes over domains do occur, different change patterns can be described. Repeated multiple data collection methods were used to obtain a rich description of patterns of change of four experienced secondary school teachers. The data sources were: audiotapes of coaching conferences, audiotapes of semi-structured learning interviews by telephone, and digital diaries with teacher reports of learning experiences.
Qualitative analysis of the three data sources resulted in two different types of patterns: including the external domain and not including the external domain. Patterns of change within a context of reciprocal peer coaching do not necessarily have to include reciprocal peer coaching activities. When, however, patterns do include the external reciprocal peer coaching domain, this is often part of a change process in which reactive activities in the domains of practice and consequence are involved as well. These patterns often demonstrate more complex processes of change.