The BRIDGE team, together with Actonville Primary School, recently hosted the first-ever public school Peer Review in South Africa as part of the BRIDGE-Standard Bank Tutuwa Foundation School Leadership Programme. English and Maths lessons were observed by peers from eight other Ekurhuleni North schools. Despite some initial apprehension from both the teachers being observed and those on the review team, the event was hugely successful in affirming good work being done and creating valuable opportunities for learning and sharing.
The Peer Review process focuses on four key domains: Leadership and Management, Teaching and Learning, Culture and Climate, School and Community. Teachers observe and constructively critique each other’s work while learning best practices from one another. It also involves focus groups with educators, senior management and learners, to gain a sense of how different school stakeholders perceive the functioning of the school. The information collected is fed back to the school, to be used at the school’s discretion. Reviewing teachers are also encouraged to take their learnings back to their own schools and share them with their peers.
The BRIDGE convening team held a seminar to prepare and induct school leaders and staff by exploring all the elements of the Peer Review process. The seminar was designed to address fears and clarify misunderstandings, and to equip schools to obtain buy-in from the teachers giving lessons and those observing lessons. Attended by representatives from each of the nine Ekurhuleni North schools, the seminar used lesson observation sheets, video calibration exercises, and group activities and discussions to familiarise participants with the Peer Review process.
Overall, the Peer Review left teachers better informed and certain that lesson observations take place in a safe and non-judgemental space – a space where the lesson and not the teacher is constructively critiqued, challenges are shared, and learning and growth are encouraged.