In recent years the Washington College faculty added a peer observation component to the tenure and promotion review process. Working with their chairs, tenure and promotion candidates will identify at least one department member (other than the chair) and one colleague from outside the department to conduct formative peer observation during the course of the review period.
The working group that developed this proposal believed that this change would formalize a productive practice that has emerged among faculty, asking if not expecting colleagues who will contribute letters to visit a class. They developed a peer observation form, recommended but not required, that provides guidelines for formative feedback rather than summative assessment. The intent is not to grade our peers but rather to help us reflect.
Beyond the tenure and promotion review process, engaging in peer observations can be helpful, enlightening, and enjoyable. One way to pursue more informal use of peer observation would be to join or create a Teaching Cluster, organized around some shared ideas, issues, or strategies. Cromwell CTL has and will continue to provide support for Teaching Clusters, including paying for lunch in Hodson whenever the group gathers.
Let us know if you’d like to create a cluster or in some other way participate in peer observation opportunities.
Further reading and resources on peer observations: