Teacher collaboration model boosts performance
Fourth-grade math teachers Lydia McGuire and Heather Floyd observe as colleague Angela Levin presents a lesson on equivalent fractions to her students at Collierville Elementary School. They watch closely to examine how Levin teaches and uses examples to illustrate her points.
The goal is to gauge whether the majority of Levin’s students can explain what they just learned and, if not, how the lesson could be improved.
The practice of teachers observing teachers is part of the Teacher Peer Excellence Group, or TPEG, now in its second year at the school in Collierville, a community of 44,000 people near Memphis. The pilot program is being shepherded in six Tennessee school districts by researchers at the Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development in Nashville. It was adapted from methods used in Shanghai, China, home to some of the world’s top-performing schools.
Through financial support from the Tennessee Department of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 18 school principals traveled to China in 2013 to observe the country’s teacher peer support program. During the 2013-14 school year, the principals implemented the TPEG model in elementary and middle school classrooms in urban and rural school districts in or near Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. Researchers at Peabody have been monitoring the program’s progress.