Refreshing peer observation through Walkabout Weeks: observers as voyagers, not vampires

  • Phil Denton
Keywords: peer observation, networking, reflection, teaching excellence, vampires


When one observes, two learn. This viewpoint piece argues that peer observation can serve an important role in facilitating profound conversations about teaching, expanding tutors’ ‘significant networks’. HE tutors are traditionally wary of inviting spectators into their classrooms, observers relying on invitations in the same way that vampires require invites before they are can enter a room. It is argued that observers are better conceptualised as voyagers, exploring new environments for personal development. It is within this context that Walkabout Weeks were born, a fortnight each year where science tutors open their classrooms to colleagues. This initiative has enhanced the visibility of casual peer observation, further normalising this practice, and has provided a rich source of diverse observation opportunities for inexperienced staff. By also welcoming non-academics into classrooms, administrative staff have gained deeper insights into the academic lives of the students that they support, a distinctive feature of the scheme.