For some time, coaching has been actively used in a business environment for enhancing the performance of staff. The belief is that the ability to raise staff performance and seek long-term goals for them to work towards, is important. In their efforts to improve the relevance of the professional development opportunities made available to their staff, schools are increasingly making use of coaching for creating the climate, environment and context that empowers individuals and teams to generate results. Coaching is a way of working with colleagues supportively in order to encourage them to develop personally and professionally, thus helping them to improve beyond their present capability.
In the schools' context, peer coaching offers a means by which teachers can deepen their awareness and understanding of:
- what goes on in their classrooms;
- their effectiveness as teachers; and
- their own and their pupils' learning.
In this way, teachers are enabled to take charge of their personal professional development, allowing them to start from a point that they recognise. Peer coaching can be used by teachers throughout their careers and applied to any teaching and learning situations. Research suggests that teachers learn most from a combination of support from their peers and specialist support. Peer coaching encourages professional communication and helps teachers to develop a 'shared language' about teaching and learning. Like all professional processes, it is most successful when teachers adapt it to their own specific needs and circumstances.