STRATEGY: Create peer review and feedback loops.
Effective school leaders create peer review and feedback loops to advance adult development that leads to improved student performance. By establishing peer review and feedback loops, school leaders support teachers in defining and achieving individual and shared goals. They also serve to validate expertise that teachers bring to their work as practitioners. Because of the accessibility of peers, the ability of a teacher to receive frequent, real-time feedback through either process is enhanced. When school leaders implement peer review and feedback loops, they leverage the efficiency and effectiveness of both to activate teachers’ contributions to the continuous improvement process, resulting in authentic solutions to real-world issues in school.
Peer review and feedback loops represent processes, not products. They offer teachers a systematic way to reflect on instructional practices, as well as give and receive feedback, all to build capacity through peer collaboration. Peer review and feedback loops are described as constructive, reciprocal, growth-oriented conversations between colleagues. Representing a system of relationships, peer review and feedback loops promote shared learning and engage teachers in evaluating the effectiveness of their teaching and learning in relation to expected student outcomes. When implemented according to research-based models, peer review and feedback loops challenge teachers’ thinking about student needs and their response to those needs and push teachers to achieve further professional growth. Elements associated with peer review and feedback loops
- Trust connections: Establish trust connections to build rapport.
- Goal setting: Set improvement goals.
- Reality check: Describe current reality.
- Options: Brainstorm options to meet the goal.
- Selections: Select options to implement in support of achieving the goal.
- Action steps: Break down options to be implemented into discrete steps.
- Supports: Identify level of support needed during implementation.
- Evidence: Identify evidence that will be analyzed to reflect upon growth.
In terms of timelines, peer review and feedback loops are ongoing, cyclical, and sometimes retrospective. Other times they are immediate and most of the time they are future-focused.
First Steps to Consider
An effective school leader promotes a school culture that embraces feedback, collaboration, and dialogue by creating structures, tools, and procedures for these behaviors to become the norm. Quick wins
- Build structures and design opportunities that allow a broad base of teachers to lead peer review and feedback loops according to their strengths.
- Engage in new peer review and feedback loops (i.e., leverage technology; videotape; analyze instructional practice in PLCs; and adopt protocols, reflective questions, and/or rubrics to guide discussions).
- Engage teachers in intentional conversations about the importance of establishing trusting relationships through consistency and clear and frequent communications.
- Challenge long-standing norms that present barriers to peer review and feedback loops.
- Promote interdependence among teachers to foster conditions necessary for collective efficacy.
- Cultivate a growth mindset through peer review and feedback loops.
- Allocate time in the school schedule for teachers to observe and learn from one another and help teachers understand the basics.
- Provide professional learning for teachers on how to (1) ask critical questions that promote reflective thinking, (2) have critical conversations about instruction, (3) lead discussions to improve practice, and (4) give non-judgmental, standards-based feedback.
- Gain a commitment from each teacher to complete one cycle of either a peer review or feedback loop with a colleague as a starting point to launch a new implementation or gain momentum with an existing one.
- Provide supportive technology and materials for peer review and feedback loops.
- Assign priority to timely, daily feedback as a way of modeling mutual responsibility for individuals as well as team development.
- Acknowledge change efforts and positive differences that have been made privately and publicly.
Complexities & Pitfalls
When creating peer review and feedback loops, school leaders may encounter complexities related to time, training, and resources. Even more challenging, however, is the school leader’s role in breaking long-established habits of teaching in isolation. Common pitfalls
- Lacking a common understanding of high-quality learning to ground peer review and feedback loops.
- Lacking clearly defined structures and direction for peer review and feedback loops, diluting their effectiveness in achieving expected outcomes.
- Lacking a clear set of outcomes to be accomplished through peer review and feedback loops.
- Being ambiguous around peer review and feedback loop confidentiality agreements.
- Accepting a culture of “nice” that results from a feedback process that only reflects positive feedback.
- What are the best strategies for promoting teacher engagement in peer review and feedback loops?
- What strategies will school leaders employ to establish feedback as part of the school culture?
- What experience have teachers had with peer review and feedback loops? How will their experiences impact current implementation?
- How will teachers be active contributors to the design of peer review and feedback loop processes?
- What types of data—qualitative and/or quantitative—will be collected in association with this process?
- What distinctions will be made between data collected from peer review and feedback loops and data collected associated with appraisal cycles as a way of mitigating apprehension teachers have about participating?
- What support is needed for teachers to know how to engage productively in potential conflict resulting from peer review and feedback loops?
- What challenges will arise from peer review and feedback loops?
- How will school leaders promote a common understanding of high-quality learning that grounds peer review and feedback loops?
- What does a clearly defined structure and direction for peer review and feedback loops look like in different school settings?
- How do school leaders combat a culture of “nice” to ensure positive feedback results from peer review and feedback loops as well as feedback addressing opportunities for growth and refinement?