If you are unfamiliar with the educator you are observing, the initial contact and pre-conference is essential. The first meeting is an excellent opportunity to develop a collegial atmosphere of common purpose and characterize the peer observation process as a safe, nonjudgmental source of constructive and supportive feedback. During the pre-conference, discuss expectations and outcomes for the observation. The peer observation is confidential. Now is a good time to verify with the educator that this is an observee-driven process. It is important to communicate that feedback is only shared between the peer and the observee. However, the observee may share feedback, results, or reports with the principal to be considered as a source of evidence.
If peer observers are assigned:
Peer observers should make contact with observees as soon as possible to allow ample time to identify an area of need or a ‘look for’ and to foster an atmosphere of trust and common purpose.
If peer observers are self-selected by educators:
Teachers may want to consider choosing a peer from another content area or grade level. Learning about other teachers' content reveals how they might help students make cross-curricular connections. Peer observation supports growth of instructional practices as outlined in the Kentucky Framework for Teaching (KyFfT) and Specialist Framework.
Teachers are very busy and will need to schedule time for the pre-observation meeting. Many effective communication tools may be used for messaging. While face-to-face meetings are more personal, peer observers might consider the use of Skype, Facetime, or other available programs to make initial contact and build rapport with colleagues. When contacting the teacher virtually, consider attaching a copy of the Framework or the Specialist Framework to your message to help identify the focus of the observation.