LEARNING THROUGH THE USE OF PEER SUPPORTED OBSERVATION By HELEN JUNE PHILPOT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2017
2017 Helen June Philpot
To my husband and my parents for their continual support and love
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my mother first, who has tirelessly dedicated herself to the field of education for the last thirty eight years. I always knew I wanted to teach because I could see the impact she had on the lives of both her students and her peers. A long with my mother, I would like to thank the other influential teachers who inspired me, my A unt Wendy and U ncle Mike, my cousin Ann, and even my U ncle Eric, who in spite of becoming a doctor still found his way into a classroom. We are a family of educ ators and of that I am proud. In addition to my family, I would not be here without the hard work of my professors here at the University of Florida: Dr. Alyson Adams, Dr. Elizabeth Bondy, Dr. Nancy Dana, Dr. Brianna Kennedy Lewis, Dr. James McLeskey, Dr. Elizabeth Washington, and Dr. Vicki Vescio. My time in the Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education (CTTE) doctoral program has been invaluable. I have learned so much and pushed my thinking further than I ever thought possible. I would be remiss to no t also thank my cohort members who played a huge role in my learning as well by providing insight and different lenses of understanding. Everything I have learned in the program is directly applicable to my work as a practitioner in the field and I will us e it to change my context for the rest of my career. To my committee members, Dr. Alyson Adams, Dr. James McLeskey, Dr. Elizabeth Washington, and Dr. Lynda Hayes, thank you for taking the time to read and critique my work. Dr. Alyson Adams in particular, in her capacity as my committee chair, has given her time and keen eye to help make the process of writing my dissertation smoother than I thought possible.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY ................................ ................................ ..................... 10 Background and Significance of Problem ................................ ................................ .............. 13 National Context ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 13 District Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 15 School Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 16 Purpose of the Study and Research Question ................................ ................................ ......... 17 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 17 Re levant Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 18 High Yield Professional Development Practices ................................ ............................ 18 Qualities of Effective Induction Programs ................................ ................................ ...... 20 Peer Observation ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 22 Mentorship ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 25 Reflective Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 26 Community Building ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 27 Summary of Relevant Literature and Program Design ................................ ................... 28 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 28 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 29 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 29 Description of the Peer Supported Observation Process ................................ ................. 30 Classroom Observation Tool ................................ ................................ ........................... 31 Data Sources ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 32 Researcher Journ al ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 32 Document/Artifacts ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 33 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 33 Notes from the Post Observation Debriefing ................................ ................................ .. 34 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 34 Research Positionality ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 35 Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 36 Chapter Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 37 2 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 38 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 38 The Value of Relationship Building ................................ ................................ ....................... 41 The Power of Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 44
6 Logistical Insights into Process Facilitation ................................ ................................ ........... 47 Struggles with Logistics of Site Based Professional Development ................................ 48 Refining the Peer Supported Observation Process ................................ .......................... 49 Perceived Benefit of Peer Supported Observation ................................ ................................ 51 3 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 54 Connections to the Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 54 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 56 Implications for my Own Professional Growth ................................ ............................... 57 Implications for Schools and Districts ................................ ................................ ............ 59 Study Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 60 Ideas for Future Research ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 61 Study Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 62 APPENDIX A RESEARCH INTERVIEW PROTOCOLS ................................ ................................ ............ 63 B OBSERVATION INSTRUMENT, NOVICE ................................ ................................ ........ 65 C PROPOSED OBSERVATION INSTRUMENT, FACILIATOR ................................ .......... 66 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 67 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 70
7 LIS T OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Data sources. ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 32 1 2 Facilitating peer supported observation ................................ ................................ .................. 40
8 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education LEARNING THROUGH THE USE OF PEER SUPPORTED OBSERVATION By Helen June Philpot December 2017 Chair: Alyson Adams Cochair: James McLeskey Major: Curriculum and Instruction F ewer are entering the profession of teaching in the 21 st century many are fleeing, and districts all over the country are having staffing crises (Podolsky, Kini, Bishop, & Darling Hammond, 2016). M any teachers leave within the first five years ( Podolsky et al. 2016 ). Comprehensive induction program s are a way to support n ovice teachers and encourage them to remain in the field despite obstacles. However, induction in the United States varies greatly (New Teacher Center Policy Report, 2016) In the comprehensive high school where I teach, novices have district supported online induction, a mentor, and an instructional coach who supports over 30 new teachers. Due to the high teacher turnover in my school and the large number of novice teachers being supported by one coach I felt compelled to learn more about how to support the new teachers myself. With that in mind, I designed a study with the guiding research question: How can I, as a fellow classroom teacher, help on my campus to facilitate the learning of novice teachers through peer observation and reflection conversations (Peer Supported Obser vation)? I began by engaging two novice teachers in defining a Question of Practice in their own instruction (Cosh, 1999; Stephens, 2011) followed by three rounds of paired observation of
9 veteran teacher classrooms and debriefing discussions. Using pract itioner research, I conducted interviews collected artifacts and t ook notes during the peer supported observation cycles Th ree major themes arose from my data that gave me insight into my own facilitation and the learning of teachers during this process : t he v alue of r elationship b uilding, t he p ower of q uestions, and l ogistical i nsights into the process of facilitation. While my practitioner research study does not solve the issues of teacher attrition and novice teacher retention I feel it adds to the literature on ways to address those problems. If we in education, specifically at the peer level, took time to be a part of the larger solution, aiding in the induction support of our novice teachers, it could be a contributing factor to retaining teachers and quelling teacher attrition.
10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Entering into the teaching field in the 21 st century can be a thankless proposition. F ewer are entering the profession, many are fleeing, and districts all over the country are having staffing crises ( Podolsky et al. 2016 ). Once on the job, new teachers are faced with innumerable things to learn and they are expected to learn quickly. The steep learning curve, fueled by punitive accountability systems coupled with low pay and a low degree of respect cause many teachers to exit the teaching force (Podolsky et al. 2016). These new teachers are often exiting the career within their first five years of teaching. Teacher turnover is an issue in the American school system and it has been an increasing issue for over the last several decades (Ingersoll, 2003). A comprehensive induction program is one way that states, districts, and even individual schools can work to support talent in new teachers and to make them feel competent and confident enough to stay in the field despite obstacles. When successfully implemented, induction can quell the tide of teacher attrition in the early years of teaching (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011; Wang Odell, & Schwille, 20 08). A successful induction program can contain many separate components including orientation, seminars, mentorship, expert teacher observation, and reduced workloads, but at the core it involves investing time and resources to support new teachers (Inger soll & Strong, 2011 ). However, induction in the United States varies greatly (New Teacher Center Policy Report, 2016) from state to state, within states from district to district, and even within districts from school to school. In fact, according to the New Teacher Center Policy Report (2016), in the state of Florida only those people changing professions are required to have support and mentorship. For all other teachers entering the field from traditional teacher preparation
11 programs there are no establ ished state requirements for induction support, and districts must create induction programs independently. Taking this often barren induction landscape into consideration, particularly in my own context within the state of Florida and district of Belle County (a pseudonym), comprehensive induction reform is needed. While our district provides some general induction support, in my experience over ten years, I s aw an opportunity for peer support that c ould supplement our induction program to provide more d irect and personal support for teachers. In particular, through research and reading in my doctoral program, I learned about the power of peer observation to support teacher learning. It was my aim to use a structured, supported peer observation process (henceforth referred to as Peer Supported Observation ) to enhance induction for the beginning teachers on my campus. For this study, I define Peer Supported Observation as a process whereby a novice teacher and a veteran teacher observe classroom teaching together using an observation instrument and then engage in reflection and discussion about the viewed lesson. Peer observation is a widely lauded practice in many professions from collegiate teaching to the medical field where there are more con crete procedures in place around its use (Gosling, 2002; Siddiqui, Jonas Dwyer & Carr, 2007). In the fields of primary and secondary education, the practice of observing peers is either informal or tied to collaborative learning models like Lesson Study an d Instructional Rounds (Stephens, 2011; Teitel, 2009). New teachers have questions of practice should apply. In my district and more specifically my school, peer observation is one of many components missing in our induction process. In conversations with three new teachers at the end of school year 2015 2016 it was expressed that what they wanted was to get into the
12 classrooms of their peers in order to see things done well or to get ideas of different teach ing strategies. In a school as large as mine (over 3,200 students), with a very large instructional faculty (over 150), often necessity rules the day. T here are up to twenty substitutes needed daily, so our funds have to be used to cover subs for absenteei sm rather than planned teacher learning like peer observation. As a result, release time for new teachers is at a premium, and rare. In 2015 2016 the school also cut its Lesson Study program, which resulted in even fewer opportunities for release time tied to some manner of peer observation. Peer Supported Observation at my school could be a great tool in the broader induction toolbox, and it wa s my aim to provide examples of how this strategy can be used to enhance new teacher practice. The aim of my prac titioner research (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2014) was to serve as a peer mentor and facilitator for several new teachers on my campus through observation of veteran teachers using Peer Supported Observation Given the limits on release time, we needed to focu s on improving the quality of peer obser vations rather than the quantity. Based on what I learned about high quality professional development, I want ed to create rich learning experiences that include shared observations, debriefing, and reflective discuss ions in a one to one setting with each new teacher in the study. The purpose of this study wa s to create and examine a model for Peer Supported Observation implemented with new teachers, a component of their broader induction process, as a means to examine my own growth as a facilitator of new teacher learning. As a way to gain insight into both my role as facilitator and the efficacy of the Peer Supported Observation process I also gathered feedback from the new teachers on their perceptions of the value/ benefit of the strategy in helping them learn and grow as teachers.
13 Background and Significance of Problem In order to understand what was occurring in my own context, I first need ed to understand the problem from various perspectives. Teacher attrition and induction are current challenges that occur at the national, district, and school site levels. National Context Teacher Attrition. In the last several decades there has been an eb b and flow of teacher attrition, but at the heart of the numbers there has consistently been a large chunk of teachers entering the field and then exiting prior to finishing their first five years in the profession. In fact, 41% of new teachers exit the fi eld before their first five years on the job (Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014). The number of exiting teachers is staggering particularly when a national teacher shortage looms large over many states and school districts ( Podolsky et al. 2016 ). When a sked what pushed new teachers out of the job in the first five years 45.3% said that they were working conditions, including salaries, classroom resources, student misbehavior, accountability, Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014, p. 25 26). There are major concerns for districts and schools when faced with new teacher and veteran tea cher turnover simultaneously. The primary concern with teacher turnover is that it will negatively impact student learning (Darling Hammond, 20 00 ). Another huge concern is financial: the revolving door of teachers means a loss of expertise and loss of the investment in novice teacher improvement (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011). One way to address teacher attrition is to develop strong, comprehensive teacher induction programs in order to help teachers be more successful faster, and to give them the skills and c onfidence to remain in the field.
14 Teacher Induction. Nationally, induction is implemented with widely varying degrees of success. Comprehensive induction programs are not a promise for new teachers entering into teaching in America. The New Teacher Center (NTC), a national non profit whose primary aim is to improve the outcomes of students through the support of new teachers entering the field, has completed a comprehensive study of each state in the nation looking at both national trends in induction and new teacher support and state by state efficacy. In an analysis of statewide induction support across the nation, NTC (2012) found that 27 states have set requirements for a prescribed level of induction support for new teachers. Of those 27, only six inc lude a comprehensive plan that extends broadly into the first three years of specifically those who receive the supports of rigorous quality induction, have been shown to directly impact the learning of their students (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011). In the NTC (2011) fifty state review of new educator induction and mentoring they made some stark observations where only three states are currently meeting their landmarks for quality support of new teachers: Connecticut, Delaware, and Iowa (Goldrick, 2016). The qualifiers set by the NTC include: induction that supports new teachers for their first two years in the field, a set requirement for mentor quality, release time s upport for new teachers and their mentors, induction program quality and standards, adequate induction program funding, standards of teaching and learning quality, program accountability, and induction as a component of educator professional certificate li fully meet any of these elements (New Teacher Center).
15 District Context My local school district was (and is still) experiencing many of the issues that are recognized at the national le vel. We are a large school district, with 186 K 12 schools, an enrollment of almost 200,000 students, and an instructional faculty of near 14,000. Teacher Attrition. When the national teacher shortage burgeoned so did the Florida numbers of needed teacher s. Locally in Florida, the shortage had been covered by area news sources and blamed on an array of issues including novice teacher attrition, early retirement due to poor conditions (namely the change to tie teacher pay to student performance in 2011), a lack of support, and growing student populations. My own district wa s (and still is) going through a hiring crisis with local news sources recently reporting a fifty eight teacher deficit as of as late as October, almost a full quarter into the 2016 2017 school year. A bump in enrollment coupled with a large loss of teachers the previous year added to the struggle to fill these teaching positions in the district. Two thirds of the current vacancies in the district were at Title I schools, traditionally alr eady difficult to staff locations (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011). Teacher Induction. The state of Florida has no required induction process, instead delegating that task to the purview of the individual districts (New Teacher Center Policy Report, 2016). As a n example, in the Public School District of Belle County, Florida there is a two year Beginning Teacher online course that is completed through a training portal and led by district level personnel. Beyond this two year online model there is little directi on given to individual schools about how best to conduct and support induction of new teachers on individual campuses. All new teachers are supported in their first year with a mentor who has been through a one day training (Clinical Educator Certification ) and is paid a small stipend to support the new teacher they are working with on campus. Recently, Belle County Public Schools also introduced a new program, beginning mid October 2016, which involve d a handful of teachers
16 around the district in a second year of site based mentorship with mentors paid to participate in training and work as a mentor. The new program impact ed one second year teacher on my campus. School Context Willow Branch High School is a Title I, suburban, comprehensive high school in the Belle County Public School district (all district, school, and teacher names in this dissertation are pseudonyms). At the time of this study, o ur school ha d an enrollment of over 3,200 students and over 150 instructional staff. Teacher Attrition. As a Title I school, our school has always had teacher retention issues At the end of the 2015 2016 school year 30 teachers left the school due to retirement, shifts to other school sites and leaving the field of educa tion. An array of causes led to this large number of teachers needing to be replaced but the ultimate result has been the hiring of many teachers new to the field. Teacher Induction. The 2016 summer ended with twenty five vacancies filled and five open po sitions that would be filled with substitutes and other school staff until teachers were hired. Of the thirty new to school teachers eventually hired, fifteen were in their first year of teaching, and another six were in year two. We were allotted one site based instructional coach to attend to the needs of these thirty individuals. There were monthly meetings with the coach for new teachers focused on professional development tasks, primarily educating the new teachers on our instructional evaluation syste m and the process known as Deliberate Practice. Deliberate Practice is based on the work of Marzano and is part of the instructional framework that shapes teacher professional learning in our district (Marzano, 2010). The instructional coach is responsibl e for working with the entire school faculty in professional development around these two components. During the time of this study, we had one
17 instructional coach tasked with the responsibility of working with all teachers on our campus in need of support and no specific coach tasked to work solely with our new teacher population. In addition to my role as a full time classroom teacher, I also worked informally with our instructional coach to help provide support for the new teacher population so she could spend more time working with teachers who needed specific or intensive suppor t. Our administrative team supported my work with the instructional coach. The assigning of mentors was the primary support given to new teachers on my campus and no systematic program of induction was in place. Purpose of the Study and Research Question The purpose of this study wa s to examine my own practice as I work ed with a pair of novice teachers through Peer Supported Observation in order to understand how to best support these new teachers. I document ed the strategies, tools, and protocols I use d and talk ed to the teachers I work ed with, to understand their perspectives on what help ed them improve teaching practice. In addition to studying my own practice as a facilitator it was my hope that the new teachers involved in the study w ould feel more confident in their role and more able to continue building their instructional capacity as teachers. The following research question guided my study: How can I, as a fellow classroom teacher, help facilitate the learning of novice teachers on my campus thr ough peer observation and reflection conversations (Peer Supported Observation)? Significance of the Study Through work with a small sample of our new teacher population, I hope d to both help them individually in their first years but also be able to refi ne a process for working with new teachers to participate in Peer Supported Observation I also hope d to model a process that could be followed by teacher mentors and their new teacher mentees, coaches and new teachers, or
18 even instruction oriented adminis trators. In the larger picture, I hope d to share any successful processes with area schools with a similar context to support them as well. Relevant Literature The purpose of this study wa s to conduct Peer Supported Observation cycles with new teachers as a new component of a school wide induction program at my school. As discussed in the introduction and subsequent background section we know that induction models vary widely and new teachers frequently leave the profession within five years with the most cited reason being job dissatisfaction, which includes a lack of support and job site issues (Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014). In order to build a model for Peer Supported Observation cycles with new teachers it was imperative to explore current effec tive induction research and high yield professional development practices as a way to craft a successful model. I also explore d where and how peer evaluation was already being used successfully and even unsuccessfully. In the next section I will outline th ose practices that help mentors succeed in mentoring relationships. I will also present literature on reflection as a tool that helps learning to occur. Finally, I will explore research in areas that promote positive sense of community and belonging among new teachers. It is with these pieces of research that I develop ed a model used with new teachers at my site. Within each of the following sections, I will outline some of the literature on the topic, and then explain how that relates to the design of my m odel for Peer Supported Observation High Yield Professional Development Practices Induction is a form of professional development and capacity building for new teachers and should be designed with the same principles of high quality professional learning. Job embedded professional development (JEPD) is teacher learning that is fixed around daily teacher practice and is designed to positively impact teacher instruction an d student outcomes (Croft Coggshall, Dolan, Powers, & Killion 2010). A job embedded a pproach also aligns with
19 Cochran Smith and Lytle (2001) whereby constructivist learning outweighs sit and get methods oriented learning in exchange for a learner foc used approached. Desimone (2009) established a framework for effective professional development (PD) practices. Included in the model were the following components of PD: content focus, active learning, coherence, duration, and collective participation. C ontent focused professional development activity is concerned with building teacher knowledge of subject matter and how students learn within that specific subject area. Active learning in professional development means that teachers are not simply receivi ng knowledge but are able to actively apply their learning in different ways and contexts. Coherence refers to creating links between the PD experiences and the knowledge, beliefs, and practices of participants. Duration is the time over which the professi onal development occurs with the focus being on sustained lengths of time. Finally, collective participation means that teachers are working with peers from similar contexts to determine how the PD applies to their specific learners. The literature outlin ed above helped m e to think about how to design Peer Supported Observation cycles that had the elements of high quality professional development. Peer Supported Observation cycles were designed to operate as a form of job embedded professional development in order to promote constructivist learning via reflective practice. Additionally, I desired strategy knowledge, engaging active participation, paralleling the a ims of induction programs, occurring over an extended amount of time in the semester, and building collaborative relationships between the new teachers and myself.
20 Qualities of Effective Induction Programs A well trained, highly effective teacher is one of the primary factors of student success (Darling Hammond, 2010), which is the ultimate goal of all professional devel opment and school change. Ingersoll and Strong (2011) note that pre employment training is not enough to help teachers be successful in t he complex field of teaching, suggesting that a comprehensive induction program is needed. Wang et al. (2008) found impacts the first teaching assignment which can impact a teacher indefinitely (p. 132). sense of community and belonging that greatly impacts teacher outcomes. In their b roader review of fifteen studies on the impact of induction and mentoring on beginning teachers Ingersoll and Strong (2011) honed in on five studies that showed the effect of teacher induction on beginning teacher classroom practices. They found that begin ning teachers who were a part of to showing higher levels of performance in the observed areas of teaching practice. All this considered, many induction progra ms do not include teacher satisfaction as one of the goals of the process (Shockley Watlington, & Felsher 2013). In the five studies identified within Ingersoll and Strong (2011) that dealt with the effect of teacher induction on beginning teacher class room practices all five indicated that when rigorous levels of induction were maintained, student achievement improved. One study within the meta analysis looked at 17 school districts with 50% or more low socioeconomic students. The 17 schools within the study only saw achievement increase after three full years of induction program involvement.
21 One of the common myths identified by Wong (2004) in his report on development and retention of teachers was the issue of viewing mentorship alone as a singular me thod of induction. They report that mentorship relationships are certainly valuable, but that they are often more concerned with day to day survival for new teachers rather than a focus on professional learning. Comprehensive induction programs, like those proposed by NTC, seek to employ strategies beyond just mentorship. Wong (2004) examined multiple districts where induction focused on student learning and specifically, student achievement. Wong (2004) identified elements of successful induction programs including: Begin with an initial 4 or 5 days of induction before school starts; Offer a continuum of professional development through systematic training over a period of 2 or 3 years; Provide study groups in which new teachers can network and build su pport, commitment, and leadership in a learning community; Incorporate a strong sense of administrative support; Integrate a mentoring component into the induction process; Present a structure for modeling effective teaching during inservice and mentori ng; Provide opportunities for inductees to visit demonstration classrooms. (p. 48) The programs studied by Wong (2004) were highly structured induction programs where the identified elements were implemented across the district. As I reflected on the optimal induction programs from the literature, I determined that my Peer Supported Observation cycles sho uld tie pedagogy to practice. Peer Supported Observation would provide a focused activity that extend ed beyond just mentorship t o engage new teachers in strategy oriented reflective practice that could, according to Wang et al. (2008) stick with them well into their teaching careers. Finally, I attempted to create a structure where new teachers
22 could view and reflect upon effective teaching and engage in focused classroom visits. It was my hope to move beyond the survival oriented mentor relationships that get new teachers through the day and instead, engage them in rigorous professional learning to he lp build their capacity as educators. Peer Observation As previously mentioned peer observation is a strateg y used heavily in other fields ( notably m edicine and collegiate teaching) where the experiences of veterans are valued in the learning of novices. Peer observation has found a foothold in primary and secondary professional development practices in the form of Instructional Rounds, actually inspired by the medical field rounds, and Lesson Study. However, these types of peer observation involve larger groups and are oriented around different end goals. Instructional Rounds involves a group of stakeholders Question of Practice their data collection (City, 2011; Stephens, 2011). The aim of these rounds is for the team, usually made up of a mix of district and site administrators and possibly teachers, to gather data on patterns at a campus site in order to make recommendations for future professional development focus and areas of imp rovement. The scope of Instructional Rounds has largely been used in a macro oriented manner, identifying whole school needs. Lesson Study on the other hand focuses upon the learning of students through an in depth study of a lesson to be taught (Stephens, 2011). A team of teachers gathers and works together to refine a lesson for their specific context. One teacher from the group is selected to teach the lesson to a class of students. The observation component comes into play when the teacher is teaching. The teachers who worked in collaboration to build the lesson now observe a specific area of the lesson as it pertains to student interaction with content. The purpose of observations within Lesson Study is
23 The bulk of in service teacher formal observation experiences occur within their pre service educational experiences (Richards & Lockhart, 1992). Richards and Lockhart (1992) also indicated that peer observation is often viewed as threatening due to its frequent ties to evaluation systems. The authors provide d guidelines for conducting effective peer observation: should remain the o ed specific process steps including pre and post observation meetings, specific data collection tools for observations, and specific goals for observations that might include: 1. Organization of the lesson the entry, str ucturing, and closure of the lesson. 2. allotment of time to different activities during the lesson. 3. the strategies, procedures, and interaction patterns employed by students in completing a task. 4. T ime on task the extent to which students were actively engaged during a task. 5. Teacher questions and student responses the types of questions teachers asked during a lesson and the way students responded. 6. Student performance during pair work the way s tudents completed a pair work task, the responses they made during the task, and the type of language they used. 7. Classroom interaction teacher student and student student interaction patterns during a lesson. 8. New teaching activity class performance dur ing a new teaching activity. 9. Group work on task during group work; the dynamics of group activities. (Richards & Lockhart, 1992, p. 3) Having a specific focus allow ed the observer to provide more targeted feedback in the post observation discussion. Cosh (1999) suggested a rationale for peer observation within schools whereby the d
24 development through reflection, an d self awaren also suggested that a reflective model of peer observation would yield more results than appraisal based models seen in the US and the UK. One important element in peer observation is the use of an observation instrument to keep checklists, to scales, to written feedback each of which is viewed to have perks and disadvantages. Gosling (2002) reiterated the need for an observation too l rather than relying on memory to recall observed details. There were also benefits to engaging in observation seen in the research. Carroll and that the proce Gosling (2002) added a warning to the process of peer observation saying that peers should s those engaged in the process learn better from their peers when they view them as equal rather than above them in the hierarchy. I considered the recommended peer observation practices outlined above as I designed s of interest or perceived problems of practice or concern. I work ed with teachers in the initial phase to identify their specific areas of focus whether personal concerns or those tied to the school wide D eliberate Practice plan process, where teachers must select an area for self study and practice.
25 New teachers were actively engaged in all steps of the process from what they want ed to observe in the practices of others to the reflective discussions held post observation. Relying upon those who have s uccessfully implemented peer observation, I use d an observation instrument that allowed for teachers to view their area of pinpointed need, engage in pre observation discussion and post observation reflection ( Appendix B ) Additionally, I promote d the sense of genuine peer relationships mentioned by Gosling (2002). Finally, I explored the instructional round concept because it is one of the suggested methods of gathering data for the deliberate practice plan process within my own district. However, at the time of this study, we ha d not received official professional development on Instructional Rounds and there was no current supported model for implementation, so I did not adopt this as my model for this study. While the la rger groupings do not fit with my intended model I do see value in the initial discussions focused around determining a problem or Question of Practice as seen in research by Co sh (1999) and Stephens (2011) I borrow ed this concept to help me frame the i nitial discussion with the individual teachers when determin ed the area of focus for observations. Mentorship As mentioned previously, most induction programs include some element of mentorship. Hallam, Chou, Hite and Hite (2012) found that in order for mentors to be effective and impact teacher retention they must be accessible and available on site and working within the same content area. The results are less effective when off site coaches are brought into a sc hool. Beyond just induction, Guskey (2002) noted that mentorship could be an important part of professional development through follow up and feedback. In this way, mentors provide support when teachers are attempting a new strategy, which strengthens pro fessional learning.
26 Also thinking beyond induction to more broadly conceptualized professional learning, the model of instructional coaching using a partnershi p approach provide d a useful method for working with teachers to improve practice. Knight (2007) espouse d a style of partnership communication where coaches use specific strategies to bridge the gap between themselves and their partners, including: emotion al connections, use of nonverbal and facial expression, understanding their audience, listening authentically, avoiding interferences, and understanding the communic ation process Mentorship and community building with the new teachers can benefit both pa rties involved. The reciprocal nature of mentorship relationships has been supported by the research of Ingersoll and Strong (2011) who cited the Mutual Benefits Model of Social Exchange Theory whereby both parties in the teacher mentorship relationship co ntinue to work together successfully due to the dual nature of learn ing and growth. With these recommended elements of successful mentorship relationships in mind, I wanted to be accessible to new teachers during my planning period and after school. Additionally, I was afforded days to work with these new teachers one to one with substitute coverage being provided. The process utilize d the reciprocal qualities cited by Ingers oll and Strong (2011) whereby both the new teacher and I were engaged in learning. My model also involve d feedback, follow up, and support (Guskey, 2002). Finally, I focus ed on building a partnership approach to the relationship as identified by Knight (20 07). Reflective Practice Reflection is a valuable and necessary component of learning and the processing of newly acquired knowledge. Learners actively construct knowledge so professional development should contain opportunities for teachers to reflect upon their learning in practice authentically
27 (Jonassen & Land, 2012). A reflective stance in teaching allows questions to be asked about we ignore this phase of the learning process leaving out an integral processing step. The processing step is all the more important for new teachers who are actively engaged in teachers the freedom to consider ideas before they adopt them is central to the principle of reflection. Indeed, reflective thinkers, by definition, have to be free to choose or reject ideas, or Considering the r esearch on reflection, my work with new teachers include d making time for moments of reflection and choice. In allowing for solo and collaborative reflection time (the teacher and myself) teachers will be more able to authentically and usefully process the ir learning. There were reflective steps and tools built into the process such as the post observation discussions. Additionally, I also use d reflection as a major component in assessing my own work as a facilitator of learning though journaling and ongoin g data analysis. Community Building Teacher collaboration is one method to counteract the sense of isolation felt by many new designed to foster collegiali work of Webster Wright (2009) who noted that schools should work toward building a healthy campus community since workplace culture is an important component of successful professional dev elopment. Fallon and Barnett (2009) also explore d shared responsibility, and a greater readiness to participate in reviewing and crit iquing teaching
28 Collaboration can create strength of campus community and outcomes as noted by change initiatives develop collabor ation where there was none before. When relationships With community building and collaboration in mind it was my aim to help new teachers connect to the broader community of the school through the relationships we create d Ultimately this should help them form a connection to the campus, hopefully increasing their commitment to remain not only in teaching, but at our school. Summary of Relevant Literature and Pr ogram Design In the course of this study, I implemented Peer Supported Observation cycles as a tool for induction with new teachers on my campus. Learning from relevant literature my model employ ed successful professional development practices, use d effective peer observation protocols, and aimed to foster a sense of community and collaboration between the new teachers and myself. I will next present my research methodology that blends knowledge of this literature with knowledge of context in order t o effect positive change on my campus. Research Design Where induction supports are strong there is a higher likelihood of teachers staying within the profession. The purpose of this study wa s to create and examine a model for Peer Supported Observation i mplemented with new teachers, a component of their broader induction process, as a means to examine my own growth as a facilitator of new teacher learning. As a way to gain insight into both my role as facilitator and the efficacy of the Peer Supported Obs ervation process I also sought feedback from the new teachers on their perceptions of the value/benefit of the strategy in helping them learn and grow as teachers.
29 I explore d the following research question: How can I, as a fellow classroom teacher, help on my campus to facilitate the learning of novice teachers through peer observation and reflection conversations ( Peer Supported Observation ) ? Context Willow Branch High School is a Title I, suburban, comprehensive high school in the Belle County Public School district of Florida. In the 2015 2016 school year, thirty teachers left the school at the end of the academic year due to retirement, shifts to other school sites and exiting the field of education. Considering the faculty size of over 150 teachers and limited number of instructional coaches we lack ed the necessary support to attend to the needs of our thirty new to school teachers, of whom fifteen we re new to the field of education, and another six we re in their second year. The remaining nine we re new to our school but not new to teaching, and therefore we re not the focus of this study. Participants Because this wa s practitioner research (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2014) and the research question focused on my own facilitation of the process, I was the p rimary study participant. In addition, I invited two novice teachers (first or second year of teaching) from my English Department to participate in the process of Peer Supported Observation cycles The criteria for selection we re that the teachers we re wi thin their first two years in the field that they were ELA teachers (due to my area of subject area expertise) and that they we re willing participants. The participants will be introduced in the next chapter. The veteran classroom teachers who were observ ed by the novice teacher s and me during the Peer Supported Observation cycles were identified by our administrative and coaching staff as effective or highly effective teachers with strong instructional methods and high marks on their teacher evaluations. These teachers were asked to volunteer for the Peer Supported
30 Observation but were not a part of the study. More specifically, I select ed veteran teachers by finding out the Question of Practice and then contacting my English/Language Arts colleagues to see if their lesson on the scheduled date would be appropriate I f no one in my department fit the need I expanded to other content teachers (not Math) or Academic Elective t eachers Description of the Peer Supported Observation Process It was important for me to go into this process with a focused approach to peer obse rvation. Based on my review of relevant literature, I designed the process to include collaboration between mentor and facilitator, engagement throughout the process, an observation instrument to guide processing, and reflective processing There were thre e planned cycles of Peer Supported Observation with each participating novice The cycle process began with an opening work session with each of the individual participating beginning teachers where we discuss ed and determine d their Question of Practice ( Cosh, 1999; Stephens, 2011). In order to help them determine their Question of Practice I first define d what a Question of Practice wa s and then ask ed some guiding questions to help us arrive at a Question of Practice for the first cycle. The pre cycle ses sion took place one week prior to the scheduled observation so I had time to find an appropriate veteran to observe. We then engaged in the first cycle of Peer Supported Observation The cycle began with a quick check in meeting where logistics were addressed and we reviewed the Question of Practice the data collection tool, and addressed any questions the novice teacher had prior to the Peer Supported Observation Following this brief check in we went to the veteran teacher classroom for observation. We observed the classroom for a full class period. During this time the novice teacher and I both took notes on the observation tool ( Appendix B ) In the period immediately afte r the observation period we went to a conference room for the debrief session.
31 During the debrief discussion I asked the teacher to share his/her data collection form and any initial thoughts I then asked probing questions and shared my own data collectio n sheet as appropriate to generate thoughtful reflection. During this debrief I engaged the teacher in the following reflective prompts : Walk me through you observation tool notes. What stood out to you in the observed class? What did you see the teache r doing? What did you observe the students doing? How do you think what you saw could impact how you think about your own Question of Practice ? Question of Practice For instance, if their focus was upon classroom management the second question asked w Additionally, these debrief discussions were recorded in order to aid my journaling and processing of my role as facilitator. The cycle then repeated two more times over the subsequent weeks with three rounds completed over the course of six weeks Classroom Observation Tool The peer observation form in use during the cycle ( Appendix B ) was adapted from note taking It was a one page document that h a d boxes with the fol lowing prompts: How does the teacher organize the classroom? What is the focus of the lesson? How is the content of the lesson organized? What instructional strategies are observed that relate to my Question of Practice ?
32 Related to the Question of Pract ice identify what the teacher is doing and how the students are responding below: Observed Teacher Actions Observed Student Actions On the back of the observation tool there was also a space for reflections on how the lesson made them think about their Q uestion of Practice Data Sources To address my research question, I used a variety of data sources to both document my process and collect evidence about my facilitation and the impact on the teachers. Table 1 1. Data sources. Data Collection Method Wh en? Data Source A: Researcher Journal Across the entire study. Data Source B: Document Collection Across the entire study. Data Source C: Teacher Interviews (Transcripts) I nterviews were conducted with the participating novice teachers at three stages in the process ( pre cycle process mid point and post cycle process ) Data Source D: Post Observation Discussion (Notes) The post observation discussions/debriefs occur red following the peer observations. Researcher Journal My primary source was a researcher journal where I record ed my reactions to the process and tools used in the Peer Supported Observation I used the notes and the audio recordings from the Peer Supported Observation cycle to inform my journaling during the cycle and use d the j ournal to monitor my own learning as I facilitate d During the observation cycle s I wrote in my journal each day responding to the following questions: What did I do that worked well in my facilitation ? What challenges did I have as a facilitator? What did I observe when listening to the audio of the debrief sessions? What will I do differently next time? In the time between cycles I
33 wrote in my journal and reflect ed weekly according to any work session meetings, scheduled interviews or informal par ticipating teacher communication. My research er journal wa s my most important data source. It was used to help me continue to process my own learning during the mid point and post process interviews as well as inform the learning focus of each subsequent cycle Document/Artifacts In order to clearly document the process of Peer Supported Observation I collected the original peer observation tools and any materials that were used as a result of a teacher s identified area of focus. Interviews I engaged t he participating teachers in a series of individual intervie ws (pre mid point, and post ). The interviews lasted from 10 25 minutes and were recorded digitally. These digital recordings were transcribed for the data record. The pre interview consist ed o f introducing myself in my role as research er and co learner in the process. I outlined the process as a whole and gave a tentative schedule of interviews and peer observation days. I then engage d the participating teacher in the pre interview questions ( Appendix A ). Two weeks after the first cycle I met with the teachers for a mid point interview ( Appendix A ). The aim of this interview was be to inquire about their perceptions of the first round of the cycle from a learner stance in order to make any necessary revisions for round two. T wo weeks after the completion of the t hird cycle I met with the teacher a last time for the follow up interview ( Appendix A ) regarding their learning across the cycles, the process as a whole, and my role as a facilitator.
34 Notes from the Post Observation Debriefing Because th e final step in Peer Supported Observation involve d a great deal of conversation about insights and le arning from the process, I included my own notes after each debrief session. These notes help ed me frame questions for the subsequent rounds and interviews with each participant so I c ould help them refer back to things they said they learned w hile we were doing the debrief sessions. I recorded the debrief sessions and listened to them again as I reflected. Data Analysis The analysis of data w as o ngoing across the study as I engage d in the first cycle iterative coding processes concurrently with the Peer S upported Observation research process (Miles, Huberman & Saldana, 2014). The first round of coding across data sources included codes focused on my particular moves as a facilitator. I modified the partnership principles of coaching created by Knight (200 7) to be used with the Peer Support Observation facilitation process since they closely aligned with the areas I wish to focus during my first round of coding. The initial coding areas included : Questioning: Coding related to the specific questioning categories used as a facilitator including probing questions and content oriented questions. Dialogue: Coding related to the airtime of both participants and concerned with equality based relationsh ip development and ease of communicating. Listening: Coding related to time spent engaged in active listening. Connections to Practice: Coding related to moments of teacher insight where the novice teacher may provide thoughts into how seen events could be used in their own classroom, or how they might be modified to work within their student context. In the first round of coding, I examined all three interviews from each perso n, one at a time. I coded the interviews where relevant with the adapted Knight (2007) codes in order to see how I
35 had used the techniques within that Peer Support Observation cycle and adapted my facilitation as necessary to better meet the needs of teach ers in future cycles. As I analyzed my data during the first round, I met weekly with my dissertation advisor and bi weekly with a critical friend. These conversations made me summarize and synthesize my findings to a person who was not involved in data collection. The conversations made me be very specific in what I was learning. I had to provide examples to back up my reasoning, which helped me ensure that I had enough support for the themes that were emerging. As I worked with these people, I was able to refine my ideas. For example, I had to remove facilitator comfort as a major theme and incorporate it into another theme due to lack of enough evidence. After my initial round of coding was completed and my three themes had emerged I revisited my data in order to find specific supports and determine if the three themes were experienced the same by both study participants. Research Positionality In this practitioner research study, I was not only a participant, but the researcher. Therefore it wa s important to outline my ba ckground and biases as they would play into this study. I was a teacher in my tenth year at the school where I began my work as a teacher. I watched as over half of the teachers who began the same year as I did left the profession m any expressing dissatisfaction with the job and seeking a sense of positivity and support elsewhere. Those that have stayed were, like me, supported by an informal, non systematic form of mentorship and support. The official supports that I have receive d did not extend beyond my first year when I was assigned a mentor. I have always been an eager learner seeking out answers for myself when none were given. In my early career I did not let questions go unanswered. Although I pushed through by personal eff ort, I believe we need a more systematic set of supports for teachers because not all teachers do pursue help themselves, like I did. I want to
36 work within the system to help support new teachers. I also find it is important to address the fact that as a f ull time classroom teacher I was seeking to develop my own teacher leadership skills through this process with an aim that without enough official support on a campus other teachers with experience should step forward to help cultivate an environment that will mutually benefit all stakeholders. One of the things I value in my job and seek for others is a foundation of collegiality and support. When I talk to new teachers they often express a sense of isolation and I feel that is not conducive to a functioni ng school. I want to work in an environment where a new teacher with a question has a place to pose the question or a way to seek answers. It is important that teachers within a department and across a school feel a sense of kinship and comfort with their peers so they feel comfortable enough to address problems and desires within their own practice. Trustworthiness I employed order to enhance my study credibility I used qualit ative research methods that have been tested including participant interviews and researcher journaling. I engaged in the study across multiple weeks on the site where I teach showing my prolonged engagement with the participants. I utilize d triangulation of data by having an array of data to pull from including interviews, journaling, discussion notes, and collection of artifacts. Once I established my themes and initial findings I engage d my participants in a cycle of member checking via email to verify that my findings correlat ed to their exp eriences They both verified that my thinking was in line with their experiences within the study. I also engage d in assessing the evidence for possible areas of disconfirming data. I did not find anything within my data to indicate that my themes and conclusions were false.
37 To enhance the credibility of my study, I employed two different support structures to help me process what I was learning as I analyzed my data. First, I worked with a critical friend who was al so going through dissertation analysis to share and discuss our findings on a bi weekly basis. We met by phone every other week for approximately 30 minutes to share updates with one another and ask questions about the findings. These questions helped us b oth think about our studies more intensely and bounce off ideas to spur our thinking. I also met with my dissertation advisor almost weekly during my analysis to share where I was in my thinking. By explaining and outlining my findings to people not involv ed in the study, I was better able to articulate the ideas and find evidence to support my thinking. Chapter Summary It is imperative that we do a better job at supporting teachers who are in their first years within the field if we wish to have strong te aching force for the future. One way to provide support is by creating a solid induction program that sees new teachers through the most difficult years on the job. It wa s my hope to create a method of Peer Support Observation cycles to help new teachers i n my context. During this process the novice teachers were able to address a Question of Practice (Stephens, 2011) that aided in thei r pedagogical development. They also learn ed how to mindfully observe peers and reflect on learning. Additionally, I was ab le to grow as a facilitator of learning through the process and understand better how participants value and use what they learn with me. In the next chapter I will introduce my participants and then describe and provide examples of the findings from this study.
38 CHAPTER 2 FINDINGS The purpose of my study was to examine my own practice as I worked with a pair of novice teachers through peer observation and reflective conversations (Peer Supported Observation) in order to understand how to best support n ew teachers. I engaged two participating teachers in three rounds of Peer Supported Observation that entailed a pre observation check in meeting, a period debrief discussion. Both participants also t ook part in three interviews spread across the two month research process. Throughout the time I was engaged with these new teachers in the Peer Supported Observation cycles and interviews, I also kep t a researcher journal where I monitored and reflected upon my role and growth as a facilitator. My research aim was to answer the question: How can I, as a fellow classroom teacher, help facilitate the learning of novice teachers on my campus through peer observation and reflection conversations (Peer Supported Observation)? In this chapter I will first describe each participant and their Question of Practice or focus for the observations. Then I will delve into the three individual themes in order to show what I learned as a facilitator of learning in this peer supported observation process. Participants The study took place in a large, 188 school district in central Florida at a comprehensive suburban, Title I high school of more than 3,200 students. B oth study participants were novice teachers with a non traditional pathway to the high school classroom. Philo began his journey more than two decades ago in England where he studied English literature and publishing at a university. While there he took so me teacher training courses that were aimed toward teaching in the primary levels. Upon graduation he decided against immediate pursuit of education and
39 instead hopped around both the world and the job market for the next twenty plus years. In the 2015 201 6 school year he found himself ready to pursue teaching and got a job at an elementary school in our district. After a year of feeling micromanaged and out of his element he decided to seek employment at our high school in the 2016 2017 year. During the st udy Philo was in his second year teaching but his first year teaching in secondary school. He had a schedule of tenth grade English with both honors and regular level students. pursue another goal. She studied English literature at a university and intended to teach immediately but could not put to rest a childhood dream of attending culinary school. After eight years she felt called back to her original teaching goal and got a second job as a substitute teacher to see if she still wanted to pursue education as a career. Over the next year she was a substitute at a private school and decided she wished to enter the classroom full time. She was hired at our school for the 2016 201 7 school year as an eleventh grade teacher with both honors and regular classes. Both Philo and Lola taught students in their respective grade level groups that largely paralleled the demographics of our large Title I high school featuring a majority perc entage of Hispanic students. As part of the Peer Supported Observation process I used in this study, participants selected a focus area ( Question of Practice ) for the observations The purpose of having them select a specific area was two fold: it would a llow the novice teachers to select an area where they felt their own instruction could improve and, it would make their time in the classroom of peers more purposeful by giving them something specific to observe. I found that each participant approached th is opportunity differently, and the way they approached it seemed important for understanding what they learned from the process.
40 plaguing her all year. She noted that she wanted to have more routine and set boundaries going into her second year in the classroom Lola decided to management b ecause those were the areas she felt p rofessional weakness and a desire for growth. Philo, however, approached the task differently. He did not know where to focus to build his instruction because he wanted to see and think about many different areas. As possible areas of focus, he mentioned teacher use of learning activities, teacher questioning, classroom structured elementary school background he seemed to be stru ggling with the increased autonomy afforded to high school teachers. After some discussion Philo decided upon learning activities as his primary focus and through that lens, over the next two months, we were able to pull in several of his other initial foc us areas based upon viewed lessons. Three major themes arose from my thematic data analysis that gave me insight into the Peer Supported Observation process, the learning of the two novice teachers involved, and my own growth as a facilitator These theme s are outlined in Table 1 2 and include the value of relationship building, the power of questions, and a variety of logistical insights into facilitation Table 1 2. Facilitating peer supported o bservation The Value of Relationship Building The Power of Questions Logistical Insight The need for interpersonal c onversations Gaining individualize professional i nsight Improved comfort for all p articipants Questioni ng evolution: From planned to probing questions created in a ction The importance of question s pecificity Questions deepen d iscussion Facing and attempting to overcome site based s truggles Refining the peer supported observation p rocess
41 The Value of Relationship Building Fullan (2007) in addressing educational change identified that When relationships develop, trust increases, as do other measures of soc Relationships are also a vital component of successful professional learning within the induction programs for new teachers (Wong, 2004). As I worked with teachers in the Peer Supported Observation process, this was reinforced as I learned that by starting with interpersonal conversations, I could gain stronger professional insights that strengthened our work together. In turn this helped me pu sh their thinking once they knew I cared about them as people. In the first cycle of the peer supported observation rounds I made a point to begin our preparation period with interpersonal discussion rather than immediately jumping into the Peer Supported Observation process. I asked how their week had been going, what they were doing with kids right now, even what they did over the weekend. In other words, questions that would warm them up to conversation and allow us to feel more at ease. I found that ou r debrief discussion after the observation flowed far better than the initial interview, and that conversation continued to improve across the three cycles as we got to know each other better on an individual level. By getting to know them, I was also abl e to gain insight into some of their professional biases and that helped me structure how I worked with them. The two teachers I worked with were very different in their growth goals. Where Philo was open to trying anything and seeing anything, Lola had a more focused and structured view of what good teaching looked like. In our more conversational moments I saw that Lola placed more value on classroom environments where the teacher was in absolute control. It was clear that Philo was fine with a little mor e presentation of their lessons. These understandings arose as my peers got more comfortable
42 discussing their personal perspectives with me and deepened over time as our interpersonal relationship developed. As my relationship with and understanding of each teacher grew I saw that these differing opinions arrived out of specific professional concerns. Lola had been really struggling throughout the year with direct on the other hand seemed to be seeking affirmation that his own teaching style was acceptable and found par friendly atmosphere created through our interpersonal relationship also allowed th e teachers to freely express their personal struggles in the classroom. Our interpersonal relationship let me gain further understanding of each individual teacher and then I was able to push their thinking further. When approaching conversations with Lol a I would seek to push her out of her comfort zone. For instance, in one classroom we viewed a strategy that focused on student autonomy. She was clearly uncomfortable with the student behaviors and how the teacher was unable to be everywhere at once so ma nagement was more fluid. Rather than allowing her to simply end the conversation there I pushed her to think about her own classroom and how she might integrate such a strategy. We brainstormed and discussed different ideas for possible layers of managemen t she might be able to add in so she felt more comfortable with what the students were doing when she was out of listening range. The prior example occurred in our third and final round of the peer supported observation process and it was our developed rel ationship that allowed me to feel comfortable in pushing her thinking and allowed her to feel comfortable exploring an idea that caused her uneasiness.
43 As I worked with Philo the interpersonal insights I gained over time also helped me guide our debrief d iscussions. In all areas of his life Philo seems to see the bigger picture. In our interpersonal conversations I would see as he drew connections across genre and time period in all areas from movies to his own family. I was able to use this fact in our de brief discussions by asking questions that allowed him to view the Peer Supported Observation cycles as connected, where we continuously referred back to prior teachers we h ad observed to make connections and drive thinking further. In our final interview as he again reflected upon the big picture of the hip that let me understand how Philo thought about his world and made me more able to tailor his Peer Supported Observation experience. Throughout my researcher journal I made note of how I was gaining confidence and becoming more comfortable resulting sp ecifically from getting to know the participants better. Prior to the study we had only worked together briefly during interdepartmental discussions and planning sessions. After the first cycle I reflected upon our first round We began and ended the day wi th personal conversations Philo arrived early so we had some time to just chat. This actually helped us get comfortable. As a new teacher to my department we have a pre existing relationship but not too much interaction due to teaching different grade le vels and levels of student. I feel this helped build our relationship in a positive way. We had similar conversation at the end of the process when there were a few minutes left before the end of the period when he needed to go teach his next class. Over t he course of the three periods I noticed that the simple act of having a non academic conversation allowed me to feel more comfortable and Philo seemed more forthcoming than in the pre interview. I made sure to engage in a similar level of informal convers ation with Lola prior to beginni ng the work of the day. In addition to my own observations that relationship building matters, the teachers noted it as well. In the final i nterview, both teachers shared that they felt comfortable discussing their persona l classroom issues with me as a result of our getting to know one another better. Philo
44 to be honest about my questions and the things I was thinking during o As I learned more about my participants as people and as learners, I was able to tailor the experience to them more specifically The relationship building process was ongoing across all three cycles and during that time there was a sense of increased trust between the participants and myself. It was the trust built between us that allowed me to push their thinking forward and allowed them to feel a sense of safety in being pushed. The Power of Questions As a veteran classroom teacher I know the power of questions to push the thinking of my literature students to increased depths. As I worked with the novice teachers, questions played an equally valuable role in pushing their thinking forward. The debrief sessions were an important part of the process where questions could be strategically used to push thinking. However, I learned that over planning generic questions in advance was not always the best strategy for rich, lengthy conversations about improving practice. In my initial planning for these debrief sessions I had a series of planned questions related to the elements of the Observation Data Collection Tool provided in Appendix B The 1. classroom? 2. What did you see the teacher doing during the lesson? 3. What instructional strategies did you observe the teacher using? 4. What did you see the students doing during the lesson? 5. How did the things you observed and made notes about connect to your Question of Practice ? 6. How do you think the things you observed might translate into your own classroom?
45 As I engaged the two particip ants in the first round of Peer Supported Observation I largely kept conversation becoming stilted or the teacher struggling to respond. I noted in my researcher journa questions on my list, it was not that surprising that these questions we re not as successful as I hoped because they seemed to be focused on recalling what happened, not focused on digging deeper into what was happening and why. Entering into the second round, having read through my researcher journal, I decided to try thinkin g of questions during the observation period that I thought would be applicable to the teacher Question of Practice During the second round I jotted some of these ideas down on a post it that I had attached to the observation instrument. These questions helped me push a little deeper during our debrief sessions because I was prepared to connect what we saw to specific things the novice wanted to learn. During data analysis I listened to both the first and second debrief discussions focusing specifically on how my questioning had evolved from the first to second cycle. As an example, to your Question of Practice d pertained specifically to his Question of Practice the components of your Question of Practice what types of questions did you observe the teacher as king during the discussion of Act Two of Julius Caesar I was able to create more individualized and specific questions by remembering
46 to jot down connections and questions as I saw them, rather than to rely on the planned, generic questions. In the third and final round my focus on question specificity remained. I did not use post it notes this time, but instead made notes on the margins of my observation instrument while thinking about possible debrief questions that may be relevant. After the final roun d I again listened to the recordings of the debrief conversation making note of the questions I asked. I was were present in the first two rounds. The biggest difference in the final round was my inclusion of the probing questions that pushed the thinking and discussion even deeper. For instance, in probing questions to make her think more deeply about the differentiated literature circle strategy she observed as discussed previously The fact that the teacher could not monitor every group simultaneously made her nervous so I used the following the literature circles in your own classroom that would make students more accountable when In the third round o f Peer Supported Observation debrief the quality of the conversations seemed to improve. Across the cycles I saw that my increased ability to question resulted in improved discourse and more reflective thinking on the part of the novice teachers. While lis specific to their needs, the teachers were talking more. In the fina l longer round I noticed
47 teachers making more connections to both current practices and thinking broadly about future practices they would change according to ideas gleaned during observation rounds. During the final interview Lola spoke specifically to t he questioning during debrief sessions sharing : I liked that your questions get to the point of this. You asked things that related to my focus question. I liked that it made me focus on a specific thing. I never would have thought about some of the things if I was in the room observing alone or you She also noted that our debrief conversations resulted in more learning than when she had been previously invited (alone) to observe a neighbor's classroom during her planning period. Lo la shared that she saw a lot of good things but never talked to anyone about it, which made the time she spent observing less useful to her practice. The comments Lola brought up in the interview regarding the value of a peer debrief and the questions I as ked paralleled my own thinking within the researcher journal S where I feel our post discussion was more productive because I probed her to analytically look at some of the issues she As I learned through this process, questions can be powerful tools to push teacher thinking, but they should be specific, targeted, and focused on extension of ideas, not just recall. The developmen t of trust previously mentioned within the theme on relationship building can also be tied to the successful use of questions of increased depth. Because we had established mutual trust participants were able to feel safe in the environment where probing questions pushed them to think outside of potential comfort zones. Logistical Insights into Process Facilitation Prior to this study, a s a full time classroom teacher the bulk of my work supporting peers on my campus has always happened outside the hours of the student teacher school day This
48 study was the first major opportunity I had to engage in supporting my peers in professional learning that occurred during the school day. It was also my first opportunity to participate in a sustained professional d evelopment process which I had to plan and implement. These new opportunities resulted in two new understandings: first an increased awareness of logistical struggles of school day e mbedded professional learning and second, learning to refine a profession al development process while engaged in facilitation. Struggles with Logistics of Site Based Professional Development Beginning the preparation for the study my first big logistical battle came in scheduling the rounds and getting coverage. I was fortunate to have the support of my administration during my research phase but finding dates that did not interfere with a testing date, particularly given the time of year (later in the second semester) made the process more difficult. I was able to find three dates that would work well and was able to negotiate professional development pullout time for the two participants and myself, since I also required a substitute Engaging in the process of scheduling for both school schedule practicality and substitute availability built up another area of my learning that I honestly had not fully considered. In fact, one of the first notes in my researcher journal actually deals calendar! I think this will be an undertaking with our crazy testing schedule. I have three In addition to the planning, I also en countered issues across the study with our volunteer observation sites. Each round I first sent out an email to veteran colleagues within my department. For the first round of scheduled Peer Supported Observation the next day proximity to the Florida Stand ards Assessment meant that none of the English teachers felt comfortable offering their space for observation. As a result, I had to look outside of the department for classrooms. Two volunteers came forward (one from a film analysis elective and one chemi stry)
49 and the first round of observation went forward. The second round saw issues as well when one of the teachers being observed almost got pulled out of her classroom to proctor a computer based exam during the time we had scheduled Fortunately we were able to talk to administration to find alternate coverage so th e observation could go forward. Our final round also hit a roadblock when this time a teacher did get pulled out to proctor and no alternative could be found As a result the final round for Philo became an observation of students under the management of a substitute teacher While stressful in the moment, each of these obstacles provided a learning opportunity and an increased awareness about the stresses and issues of planning site based professional development. Refining the Peer Supported Observation Process The Peer Suppo rted Observation process during my study was broken into three distinct blocks of time: the prep session, the observation period, and the debrief. Over the course of the two months of the study I became aware of what worked and what did not within each of these phases and worked to refine the process over time. As the cycles progressed the prep session before the observation became shorter as a result of repetition and developing understanding. Both teachers said something about this time block in their fi nal interview. Lola shared that she did not think it was as important as the process went forward because by the second round she knew what was going on. Philo said that while he enjoyed the time to discuss outside life and other classroom concerns he also thought this was not as necessary. I also noted in my journal that the time required for the prep discussion decreased over time and noted that we could probably hit the main points while walking to the observation location The lessened prep time as the cycles progressed could shorten the process down to two periods, reducing time away from the classroom and requiring less substitute coverage for all participants.
50 The observation period also saw some distinct changes during the study. During the first r ound of observation I printed copies of the observation instrument on large legal sized sheets of paper. I thought that the desk sized instrument would give the teachers more space to organize their thinking. When I first handed the instrument to Lola duri ng the first round she did not really react and simply affirmed her general understanding of the categories noting that she would further understand them as we used the tool. In stark contrast when I handed the instrument to Philo he had a physically paine d looked on his face. When I asked if he was okay he said that he was really intimidated by the size of the paper. He shared just to give him what space he needed and that I did not have any quantity expectations. When we returned for our debrief he again brought up the size ng at things outside of his Question of Practice and not to worry. Our conversation continued but he alluded to the paper size one more time mentioning that he works in bullet points rather than full sentences so perhaps that is why he did not have as much content. In light of his obvious discomfort for the second round I scaled the instrument down in size to a normal l etter sized sheet. Philo reacted by chuckling but seem ed more at ease. But this time it was Lola who was unhappy. She immediately made a co mment questioning where the big sheet went. She informed me she liked the big sheet better. She wanted the space. I made a note that for the final round I would tend to their respective preferences. Once again I learned something about facilitation of othe rs learning. They had a big emotional reaction to something I had not put a lot of thought into and I need to be prepared for anything even when it seems insignificant.
51 After each observation we engaged in a debrief session. Over time these debriefs evol ved as well. I n my journal I made note of the use of reflection time. In the first round I reflected that between the classroom observation and the debrief conversation I had forgotten to give the participants time to reflect upon what they had seen. In ou r second interview Lola made note of this step deliberately into the sec ond and third rounds. In our final interview Lola mentioned the reflection again suggesting that she would like some specific question stems to consider in her reflection. Philo on the other hand noted that he liked the open ended nature of the reflection and more broadly thinking about his own Question of Practice during that time. Finally, in my researcher journal I also wrote about the timing of the process within the larger school year. I conducted my study during our mandated standardized testing peri od, which made scheduling and finding substitutes more difficult. Yet, because of the timing late in the year, I noted the ease with which the teachers developed their Question of Practice because they had been engaged with their students for over a semest er There were sizable benefits in favor of placing this learning activity in the second semester for the specific work of this dissertation given the time constraints and the fact that participants were more quickly able to determine their area of need. H owever, if the process were repeated with other participants and conducted earlier in the year changes in implementation would need to be considered to attend to participants who were less able to determine their Question of Practice Perceived Benefit of Peer Supported Observation Zooming out to look at the two month process as a whole the reactions led me to the conclusion that Peer Supported Observation was well received across the stakeholders. The two participating teachers both found benefits to thei r involvement.
52 would say a way that I I liked, how you would say a way tha t I He concluded: I also saw the benefits expressed by my participants reflected in the words of their assessing administrator. During the post planning days of last school year, shortly after the final interviews and the conclusion of my study I was speaking with the assistant principal who oversaw both me and the participating teachers. She asked about h ow I felt the study went and I explained that I had learned a lot about facilitation and that I felt the new teachers got something useful out of the experience. She then shared that in the last two months of the process she had seen growth in the two teac hers, in particular noting that Philo, in his final evaluative conversation of the year, shared several very good ideas about his instruction in the coming year. Although my study was focused on the views of the participants and my own learning through thi s process, I was pleased that the administrator also found value in this Peer Supported process. Summary of the Findings During my facilitation of novice teacher learning through Peer Supported Observation I ar rived at three primary themes: o ne th at the cultivation of a relationship between the facilitator and novice teacher was tantamount t o a successful cycle experience; t wo that questions of quality, developed in process push novice teachers to think more deeply about their practice ; and t hree that there are several logistical challenges to the peer supported observation process that
53 must be considered when planning. In the next chapter I will discuss these findings in relation to the broader literature and explore implications and future rese arch.
54 CHAPTER 3 DISCUSSION The purpose of my study was to examine my own practice as I worked with a pair of novice teachers through peer observation and reflective conversations (Peer Supported Observation) in order to understand how to best support new t eachers In the second semester of the 2016 2017 school year, I identified two willing novice English teachers and engaged them in three cycles of Peer Supported Observation over a period of two months. Data were collected in the form of interviews, a rese archer journal, documents/artifacts collected during the cycle process, and research notes recorded following the post observation debrief meetings in order to answer the following research question: How can I, as a fellow classroom teacher, help facilitat e the learning of novice teachers on my campus through peer observation and reflection conversations (Peer Supported Observation)? In this final chapter, I will revisit my literature review from chapter one in order to critically analyze how the design and process I followed fit within existing literature on teacher learning and novice teacher support. I will also explore the implications my study has on my own practice, my context, and to future research on novice teacher induction. Connections to the Li terature framework for effective professional development practices. The work completed with the novice teachers was planned to be content focused (Desimone, 2009), allowing teachers to v iew classes within their own subject areas and develop their understanding of specific content. However, on occasion, due to logistics teachers had to view classes outside of their subject area. Even the non English visit allowed the teachers to view gener al teaching strategies and classroom procedures but each participant reacted in a
55 different way. Philo found it helpful to view any teacher in any context while for Lola the non English classroom proved too disconnected from her practice to be viewed as us eful. Participating teachers engaged in active learning (Desimone, 2009), where rather than sitting back and being given pointers on what works for classroom management they were able to get into the classrooms of their veteran peers and see techniques li ve and then reflect upon how those techniques might work in their own unique context. Through getting to know my participants I was able to bring in the element of coherence (Desimone, 2009), whereby I understood better the knowledge, beliefs, and practice s of the novice teachers and could better attend to their specific needs during our debrief conversations. The duration (Desimone, 2009) of the study occurred over a two month time frame and engaged the participant teachers in three rounds of Peer Supporte d Observation. Finally, I was able to incorporate collective participation (Desimone, 2009) into the professional development induction experience because as a peer teacher of the same subject area we could really explore how observed techniques could be a pplied to their specific learners and their subject area. experiences I can confidently attest, from interview responses and tied to the planning sional development experiences were more varied than those of typical novices in our school and district The structure of the experience modeled effective teaching to the participants through the visiting of rooms where skilled and experienced teachers ta ught (Wong, 2004). Additionally, the two participating teachers were given three unique opportunities to view the classrooms of their peers (Wong, 2004).
56 Richards and Lockhart (1992) noted that most novice teachers see the bulk of observation experiences within their formal teacher preparation. However, in my study both participants took a substantial amount of time off after their teacher training in order to pursue non education careers. Therefore, it had been a long time since they had observed teaching get into the classrooms of their peers proved helpful in their induction and reorientation into the field of teaching. I believe it was also important that we used a specific observatio n instrument that allowed the novice teacher to focus specifically on their Question of Practice ( ; Gosling 2002), giving focus to observations that could have been overwhelming. Finally, as I reflected on the design of these Peer Supported Observations, I found connections related to the importance of feedback, follow up, and reflection. Guskey (2002) highlighted the importance of follow up and feedback within the mentor relations hip as it relates to professional development. The structure of Peer Supported Observations with its multiple cycles over two months allowed me to return to concepts from the previous cycles and give teachers the space to delve more deeply over time into t heir areas of learning. The process we used also had built in space for reflection and choice (Fallon & Barnett, 2009; Jonassen & Land, 2012; Knight, 2007). Participants were able to revisit their Question of Practice multiple times in the process with th e option to revise or redefine what was important to them in our classroom observation periods. They were also able to reflect on their experiences during the debrief discussions. Implications As a developing practitioner scholar in my doctoral program in Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education, I am being encouraged to not only think about how my
57 study fits into the existing literature, but to think about how my findings can impact my own growth and result in action in my context. In this section I wi ll outline implications and next steps for myself and my school and district. Implications for my O wn Professional Growth One of the components of my broader research question involved my growth and understanding about facilitation of professional develop ment. I have gained insights into the struggles of conducting on sight professional development as well as the great personal benefits that can arise from helping a novice teacher develop their craft. As a facilitator I feel more comfortable and more thoug htful in my practice. Specifically, in the area of relationship building I have become more aware of the value of developing interpersonal connections with new teachers as they arrive on site. In the past I have fallen victim to the isolation the four wall s of a classroom can create. My time working with the two novice teacher participants opened me up to the value of getting to know these new teachers. Our department time has dwindled in the past several years to nearly nothing. Seeking out and learning mo re about new and even tenured teachers on my campus has made me feel more connected to my school. I have also found that sharing the experiences of my study interests both novice and veteran teachers in a variety of interesting ways. The novice teachers wa nt to view their peers and the veteran teachers want to both be sites of learning. Shockingly, I also discovered a desire on the part of the veteran teachers to expand their capacity by viewing others teacher or being critiqued during the observation cycle s. A range of future opportunities grew out of my improved relationships with teachers on my campus. My questioning also evolved during the course of my research. Reflecting during the cycles and then reading and thinking about my research journal allowed me to see
58 how quickly a skill can develop when closely attended to with focused research. In a way I got to see both the growth in my questioning skill and a growth in my on site practitioner research skill simultaneously. I find myself more able to think quickly on the spot and anticipate t uring observations this led to a multifaceted use of the observation instrument as compared to the novice teacher. I have thought about the needs of the veteran teacher in Peer Supported Observ ation rounds and designed a second instrument for use by facilitators that includes a space for developing probing and anticipatory questions ( Appendix C ). Reflecting upon my developing understanding of logistical planning pr oves a little more difficult. Given my context as a full time classroom teacher I will need to be proactive in staying involved with our new teachers in order to continue to use my learning. In reality, it is my hope to share my logistical understandings o f this specific process in order to allow for site use in the second semester of this year. I am obligated by my district, after the completion of my dissertation, to write up and share my research. As I work on this write up I will aim to make it useable and also seek a time to share with my school and more specifically within my department. As I condense my write up I will also try to structure it as a manual that can be more quickly digested and utilized. Overall, my learning in the areas of relationshi p building, questioning, and logistical planning will serve me as I continue to work as a peer mentor and supporter of new teachers on my campus. Additionally, I will seek out job opportunities in my district that will allow me to continue my journey of pr ofessional development facilitation as they come available.
59 Implications for Schools and Districts At my school we continue to face teacher attrition issues. The year after this study ended (2017 2018 school year), vacancies again increased with eleven in my own English department. With no clear end in sight to the teacher shortage, districts might benefit from more attention on high quality, comprehensive teacher induction programs in order to retain new teachers. Peer Supported Observations could be a us eful addition to this overall problem. When considering a possible school wide deployment of Peer Supported Observation there are some easy modifications to the process that would allow for non invasive and inexpensive implementation. First, it would be b eneficial to pair mentor and novice teaches according to their planning periods and by like subject and grade level. Grade level Professional Learning Communities on my campus share planning periods so this would not be hard to achieve. Mentor teachers cou ld then be trained in Peer Supported Observation practices and implement them over the course of two days within the shared planning period time. Additionally, s trategic pairing of mentor and novice teachers could allow for the process to be implemented no t as a pullout, but as an e mbedded process that could be repeated with little impact on the school day and fiscal bottom line. It would also be valuable to alter this process to include a longer period of time to engage in coaching cycles Both teachers e xpressed that they would be interested in continuing to view peer classrooms with the aid of a facilitator. It would be fascinating to see how their learning would continue to develop if implementation cycles continued into their next year of teaching. If the process were conducted with new participants and began at the beginning of the year observations could be more informal, without a firm
60 Question of Practice. Teachers in the initial cycle could simply be viewing different practices of interest. In the latter cycles the Question of Practice could be incorporated. As I draft the manual for my district, I will incorporate the different models of implementation as a way to give options to the different school contexts that may work. Study Limitations A stu researchers make. In my study, I chose to focus on two novice high school teachers in English. Coincidentally, the two teachers I selected did not choose traditional pathways int o teaching, and were returning after fairly long careers outside education. This may have impacted how they viewed this process, and how I had to end up facilitating that process. Additionally, my study was conducted later in the second semester, when the testing calendar often impacted teacher instruction. As a result, during the first round of observation we were unable to view subject specific teaching. Also, the timing of my study fell so that the new teachers were in their second semester of teaching. Upon discussing the idea of a Question of Practice to focus observations the teachers knew immediately ideas for where they needed to focus. It is possible, that if we began the process in the first semester they would have been less able to determine the ir focus. My study was also focused on the perceived learning of my participants, and my own learning through this process. As such, I did not follow the novices into the classroom to observe whether they used what they learned or not. The ultimate goal o f professional development is improved practice and impact on student learning. My stud y did not touch on either of these important outcomes.
61 Finally, I want to acknowledge that there may be issues of power present in my design. Novice teachers may be ner vous about their jobs and may strive to appear competent and minimize their challenges. Despite my attempts to alleviate the power issue by assuring them that the study was about my own learning, I wonder if the participants felt some pressure to over emph asize the benefits of the process because they were worried I would be reporting back to the principal about them. Ideas for Future Research Based on what I learned in my study of these two novice teachers, more research would be helpful in the following areas. First, it would be useful to see how this process would impact teacher capacity if conducted over the course of a longer period. A research study could be developed to explore how an entire year or two of peer supported observations might impact teacher learning or even student learning as a result. Additionally and similarly, it would be interesting to revisit the two novice teachers in their post cycle year to see if and how they have implemented the different strategies they viewed. Teachers co uld be given the option to be observed in conjunction with the peer observations as a way to peer assess and reflect upon implementation of viewed techniques. It would also be fascinating to see if you could continue to conduct cycles but with a focus on how participation impacted student achievement. Depending on the Question of Practice assessment components could be developed in order to gauge whether students were being impacted by the inclusion of new techniques in the novice teacher classroom. Fin ally, in talking with other peers we have discussed how the process might be implemented in other contexts in order to develop the skill base of in practice teachers.
62 For instance, one peer talked of her desire to become an AP instructor and how observatio ns of current instructors along with an in practice peer could be helpful. Study Conclusions Teacher attrition and specifically novice teacher retention continue to be a struggle in American education. Novice teacher induction both in my context and natio nally need to be more thoughtful and consistently implemented. While my practitioner research study does not solve these issues I feel it adds to the literature on ways to attend to mending those problems. If we in education, specifically at the peer level took time to be a part of the larger solution, aiding in the learning and socialization of our novice teachers, it could be a contributing factor to retaining teachers and quelling teacher attrition. As an aside, one of the two teachers I worked with Ph ilo, did return to my school the year after the study. Lola has remained in the field but got an opportunity to return to her alma mater and work with the teachers who had impacted her as a student. While I cannot claim full responsibility for their retent ion in the field of secondary English education, it is nice to report. However, my school continues to struggle with teacher turnover, so I know there is plenty of work yet to be done.
63 APPENDIX A RESEARCH INTERVIEW PROTOCOLS Interview 1 (before the process begins) Give me a brief overview of your history in education; your bio? How has this year been for you thus far? What are some positive things you have experienced? What are some of the challenges you have faced? What supports have you been given on campus? What changes to your current practice do you think are needed to help improve your teaching capacity? Why? As we work together on Peer Support Observations what would you like to observe to help you improve? Mid P oint Interview What did you think of our process during round one? important from the notes taken during cycle debrief to craft this question). Can you tell me more about th at? Did it impact your teaching or thinking beyond our cycle? If so, how? What aspects of our work together helped you learn? Why did those things help you? Are there any aspects that seemed to hinder your learning? I do appreciate your honesty so I can co ntinue to grow as a facilitator. Are there any changes that would help your learning that I could make for cycle two? How could I better facilitate your learning during the process? Post Process Interview Prompts/Questions What did you think of our process overall, now that we are done? Can you tell me more about that? Were you able to take that back into your classroom? Tell me more. What a spects of our work together helped you learn? Why did those things help you? Are there any aspects that seemed to hinder your learning? I do appreciate your honesty so I can continue to grow as a facilitator. Has your teaching changed at all as a result o f your participation in the Peer Support Observation cycles? If so, in what ways? If not, what else do you need to continue to improve? How has your Question of Practice evolved or changed across the last months? Do you think the Peer Support Observation cycles are an effective use of your time as a first/second year teacher? How could the process be improved? What feedback do you have regarding my work as facilitator? Remember, I am trying to grow as well and I appreciate your honesty. Where do you feel your Question of Practice goes from here?
64 Are you interested in continuing to observe teachers classrooms with the support of a facilitator? Did the process make you feel more confident? What might other new teachers need in order to make this type of support successful?
65 APPENDIX B OBSERVATION INSTRUMENT, NOVICE
66 APPENDIX C PROPOSED OBSERVATION INSTRUM ENT, FACILIATOR
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70 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Helen Philpot graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 receiving a Doctor of Education degree with a focus on curriculum, teaching, and teacher e ducation. She recei ved her m c urriculum and i nstruction with a focus on t eacher l eadership for s chool i mprovement. In 2007, she received her undergraduate degree in English l anguage a rts e ducation from the University of Central Florida. Helen Philpot has worked for over ten years in public education in the capacity of teacher. During the time of this study, she worked in Orange County Public Schools as a high school English teacher. In her capacity as a teacher, she takes pride in focusing the passions of her students while also making them more mindful of the ways in which literature connects to social justice and the wider world. While teaching daily, she also worked with novice educators on her campus to develop their c apacity as teachers. She firmly believes that it is the responsibility of all veteran teachers to help novice teachers grow in order to stay in the field of teaching and have a positive influence on the lives and learning of students.