ITI Journal #2: Roles and Responsibilities of a Peer Coach

(This article was first published on my old blog in August 2006, and has been revised for publishing on this site.) 

The roles and responsibilities of a peer coach are many and varied. A peer coach within one school may have a particularly different job description to that of another in another school. Five common areas of responsibility can include coaching, organising, managing, professional development and technical support.

My current role within my school is of a classroom teacher. I teach year 7. I also have the responsibility of being the subject co-ordinator for Design and Technology within the school. This involves an increased workload and more responsibility in an area that covers every student and most teachers within the school.

Some of the roles and responsibilities that are listed as common for peer coaches I do already, be it just for myself or voluntarily within my school as something I feel is important that we share. For example, I am often finding resources – websites, software, lesson ideas etc and emailing fellow teachers about it (in and outside of my school). Alongside this, I am often placing things on the school network that can be of benefit to others. For me, teaching is about sharing ideas, resources and pedagogy – that in turn will benefit everyone that we come into contact with within our professional lives. I have also held a number of insets on basic Microsoft products to interested staff at the school. These were particularly popular and were deemed a success by those that attended. Taking on the role of a peer coach, if only through the requirments of this post graduate subject, I will be formalising some of the roles I unofficially, and freely participate in already.

The challenges that I may face in taking on some peer coaching responsibilities include the time available to myself and the candidate/s I coach. I tend to do a lot of what I do in my own time, and do so because I enjoy what I do. Finding “official” time to properly conduct some of these coaching sessions will be a delicate balance decided upon by myself and the candidate/s. I expect there will be minimal “in-school” time offered to do all this, not so much because there is a lack of support within the school (because there is not), but because I am taking on this post grad study in my own time and off my own conscience. I am not expecting anything in return. Of course, if the Senior Management Team were to offer support in terms of time off class, it would certainly be something that I would happily consider. I expect class class access to the ICT suite will obviously be determined by which allocated lessons we receive and then which “free” sessions we can acquire each week. It will certainly be a bit of a balancing act, involving some negotiating with other staff within the school, but certainly something we can get around successfully.

Going through the characteristics of a peer coach, I found I was ticking most of the boxes under each of the five areas that I noted above. Predominantly I cover all of the roles set out for coaching and organising things within my school (if even unofficially, and freely in my own time). I cover some of the aspects of management and professional development, but no technical support, other than simple problems that may arise in my classroom or in other colleagues, but nothing at all official. However I am known throughout my school for my knowledge and skills in this area and always offer my help and advice whenever it is sought.

I look forward to suggesting the concept of peer coaching to some of my colleagues. I expect it will be done at a fairly unofficial level, as it is purely to meet my needs within this course. Although, my hope is that staff within the school will see and hear about what we are doing and consider the benefits of possibly officially incorporating such a system in coming school years. Time will tell.

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