- 1What are peer run-throughs?
- 2Why use peer run-throughs?
- 3What is the difference between peer run-throughs and rehearsal?
- 4What are some challenges and limitations of this pedagogy?
- 5Where in the learning cycle can peer run-throughs be used?
- 6Which high-leverage practices pair well with peer run-throughs?
In peer run-throughs, novices enact teaching practices in small groups. Some take turns playing the role of teacher while others act as observers, coaches or P12 students. The teacher educator circulates to provide informal coaching and offer reminders. Peer run-throughs are especially useful for helping novices develop skill and experience improvement around relatively simple aspects of teaching or in relation to common problems of practice.
Peer run-throughs let novices try out teaching without putting children at risk. In them, novices can repeatedly practice specific aspects of instruction, confront any difficulties, and make improvements in a sheltered, comfortable small group setting. They are especially useful in large classes, as they offer multiple, frequent opportunities for novices to practice and receive feedback. Peer run-throughs also allow novices to engage in collaborative inquiry and to analyze their own and others’ practice.
It is common for teacher educators to use the pedagogy of peer run-throughs just before engaging novices in the related pedagogy of rehearsal. When they precede rehearsals, peer run-throughs can be used to build novices’ confidence, accustom novices to hearing feedback, spur them to make small improvements in their practice, and otherwise lay the groundwork for novices’ later participation in rehearsal.
Like rehearsal, the pedagogy of peer run-throughs is one of “approximation.” Both pedagogies allow novices to simulate teaching in settings removed from real interactions with children. However, whereas rehearsals typically occur in the context of the whole class, peer run-throughs happen in small groups. Further, during rehearsals a more expert guide (e.g., the teacher educator) always facilitates and is available to give novices feedback on their teaching, while in peer run-throughs it is less common for novices to receive direct guidance from the teacher educator. Instead, novices typically act as coaches to one another in peer run-throughs, providing each other feedback and support. Last, peer run-throughs are likely to allow novices many more opportunities to practice than typically happens with rehearsals.
Because teacher educators cannot closely watch or offer feedback to every group during peer run-throughs, it is possible that novices will enact teaching in ways that reinforce bad habits or misconceptions in their small groups. It is critical that teacher educators carefully select tasks and foci and otherwise structure peer run-throughs in ways that support novices’ enactments of teaching and scaffold their feedback for one another.
Peer run-throughs fall inside the “prepare” quadrant of the learning cycle, as they offer opportunities for novices to practice teaching without children present. Peer run-throughs might happen early on in a semester, when novices are first learning about a part of teaching, and they might also happen later, after novices have seen examples of the practice and perhaps tried to enact aspects of it in other ways.
Aspects of nearly every high-leverage practice can be practiced using the pedagogy of peer run-throughs, including:
- Leading a group discussion
- Explaining and modeling content, practices, and strategies
- Implementing norms and routines for classroom discourse and work
- Coordinating and adjusting instruction during a lesson
- Implementing organizational routines
- Setting up and managing small group work
- Building respectful relationships with students
- Checking student understanding during and at the conclusion of lessons
- Providing oral and written feedback to students