Peer Observations: Peer Leaders Helping Peer Leaders!

Authors: Amalia Rojas Enriquez and Silvia Reyes
Contributions from: Noel Sabo, Marguerite Saint-Preux, both Peer Leaders for Title V Supplemental Instruction

 

One of the development activities peer leaders engage in as part of their ongoing training in the Title V supplemental instruction initiative is to conduct a peer observation. The purpose of the observation is to help peer leaders improve their facilitation techniques and leadership skills as well as to encourage reflection on leading a study session.  Peer leaders find this activity to be essential to their practice since everyone is observed and able to share best practices and receive feedback.

A couple of peer leaders reflect on their experiences based on the following questions: What has your experience been like as a peer leader in our SI program? How has observing another peer leader contributed to your development? Would you consider using a strategy [strategies] you observed your fellow peer leader demonstrate?   We want to thank both of the peer leaders for their contributions.

 

“For two semesters now I have been a Peer Leader for Title V Supplemental Instruction program. In this program, I have been given the tools that will prepare me for work in different settings. We constantly work on ways we can improve ourselves and also on how we can successfully embed these tools in our sessions to help students learn. One essential way we develop as peer leaders is through peer observations…When observing another peer leader session it is likely that we will see something different. I personally have gained so much from observing sessions. I have seen how tools like wait time and redirecting questions are used and how useful they are in making the students think critically. Observing also exposed me to different strategies that I implement in my sessions. Exposing ourselves to different methods used by fellow peer leaders influences us to attempt new techniques to improve the quality of our sessions. Watching the body language of a peer leader such as eye contact, body movement, and tone are vital for a good SI session. When I have been observed, I feel as if I can attempt to try new techniques and receive feedback afterward on what I can do to improve it. I reflect on how another peer leader uses the technique and what I can include to better it. Whenever I have anyone observing me, I want to go above and beyond what anyone is expecting me to do. While being observed we are not only leading the students to understand these useful tools to better themselves, but we are also guiding our peers to go above and beyond of their expectations.” – Noel Sabo, Peer Leader for Psychology 101

 

Being a Peer Leader (PL) is a rewarding experience, one that I didn’t anticipate enjoying as much as do. When I applied for this role, I knew I wanted to help people learn about a subject I love (Anatomy & Physiology) and help myself stay fresh with the content, but also found working with students helped me grow as a person. Before the semester starts we have a Peer Leader training, where we learn various studying techniques to help students absorb difficult content and hopefully study better on their own. Some methods include breaking down terms and making them more visual, but ultimately the hope is that the students walk out more confident, feeling like they learned something in the end. All the Peer Leaders use these methods and add their own flair, creating an opportunity for us to learn from each other. Recently, I was happy to have a few observers both old and new for my study sessions and also sit-in someone else’s. A PL for Psych 101, did a great job of letting the students interact and mainly facilitated. If they fell off track, she’d gently nudge them in the right direction. It was really nice to see and experience. Seeing her style inspired me to embrace this suggestion and make sure the students feel like the session is theirs. This is a role where I’ve learned so much and will take the lessons with me into the future to be patient, stay open to other perspectives and focus on the experience as a whole”- Marguerite Saint- Preux, Peer Leader for Anatomy and Physiology 

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