The nature of peer coaching at a National Writing Project summer institute
Peer coaching is an alternative form of professional development in which teachers coach other teachers in the development of their practice. Studies have shown that teachers who have participated in a peer-coaching model have a higher rate of transfer of skill when compared to teachers who do not participate in this type of model. Although peer coaching has been proven to be effective, there is a lack of research documenting peer coaching interactions, how peers establish trust, and how they perceive peer coaching to impact their instruction. Analyzing how peers interact and what they say to each other to move instruction forward is therefore, important to understanding how school leaders and program directors can set up their environments to encourage these types of interactions. The participants for this study enrolled in a National Writing Project summer institute. The data set for this study included semi-structured interviews, stimulated recall interviews, and digital entries relevant to the inquiry. To identify the codes, categories, and themes emerging from the data set, this study used constant comparative analysis. Findings from this study suggest that informal interactions are just as important as formal interactions in building trust between peer coaches. Findings also suggest the importance of the writing group as paramount and purposeful for both composing and teaching writing. Findings also suggest that trust is built quickly in an environment such as a National Writing Project summer institute. Participants felt a sense of comfort when they were able to attend this summer institute with somebody that they already knew, believing that this helped them in establishing an initial level of comfort that served as a springboard for building additional relationships. Future research could continue to analyze both formal and informal interactions at the summer institute to revise a model of peer coaching that would assist program leaders in developing and enhancing the interactions between participants.