Teachers may from time to time in their careers find themselves struggling. New grades/subjects, extremely challenging students, personal health issues, or other concerns may be overwhelming. There is help available to teachers if they feel they need some extra support.

If you can identify an area of your professional practice that you would like to refine or improve, Peer Support may be for you. If you would like, download a Peer Support brochure for yourself or a colleague.

What is the STA/SD36 Peer Support Service?

The Peer Support Service is a joint project between the STA and the Surrey School District. It is based upon the successful BCTF model and is designed to provide direct support to teachers who request assistance with their teaching (self-referral), to teachers who need support prior to an evaluation, or are on plans of assistance.

Peer Support is a confidential collaboration between teacher-clients and consultants that is about teachers helping teachers with an aspect of their professional work. The service offers a non-judgemental and non-evaluative opportunity to reflect upon growth toward goals set by the member.

We match teachers with consultants who have taught similar grades, courses or specific expertise.

Participation in the Peer Support Service is voluntary and confidential.

What is different between mentoring and peer support?

The STA also has a joint program for mentorship with information located at Mentor36.com.

Both services provide with strength-based and non-evaluative learning opportunities, where members may feel greater confidence, satisfaction and students learn more.

Research confirms that teachers thrive when they are in mentorship relationships with established teachers, greatly improving their classroom practice, sense of efficacy, agency, and joy in their work.

Mentor36 coordinates volunteer mentors and volunteer mentees in general subject or grade levels.  Mentoring is very similar to peer support however, it is leans to more general guidance, reflective conversations, questioning through a relationship build over one or more years.  Peer Support is essentially targeted mentoring that may be shorter or longer than a year.

What about confidentiality?

Peer support consultants offer non-directive and non-judgmental support and assistance. Peer support consultants are bound by the BCTF Code of Ethics and will not share evaluative comments about their colleagues to administrators or other colleagues.

How do I get started?

Peer Support can be accessed by contacting the Professional Support Service Officer at the STA. Principals or Staff Reps may also forward the teacher’s request on their behalf, at their request. Questions asked when starting with a consultant include: reasons for connecting, area of focus, how to best work together.

Is Peer Support for me?

    Teachers who choose to participate in Peer Support do so for a variety of reasons:

    • a new assignment
    • teaching outside of usual subject area
    • complex class composition
    • a challenging class
    • workload stress
    • a desire to try a new strategy
    • support before a first year evaluation

Admin that may have concerns may also make recommendations that peer support may be beneficial to a member prior to starting or completing an evaluation.

In some cases when an evaluation has been unsuccessful, Peer Support is coordinated and assists developing a plan-of-assistance to be implemented to provide support in any areas of concern prior to another evaluation cycle.

How does it work?

Once the process begins, it is a confidential collaboration between you and the consultant. You are matched either with a volunteer or one of our released Peer Support Consultant.

To begin, the peer support consultant will meet with you to talk about areas of interest or concern. Together they will generate ideas about what kinds of assistance would be useful and helpful. An initial visit to your classroom will be set up in order for the consultant to come and get a sense of your unique situation.

After the first visit, together you will set some goals and decide on follow up meetings and activities. Classroom observations and feedback, visits to other classrooms, and one-on-one planning sessions are some of the ways consultants and clients work together.

    The consultant might also assist you in:

    • gathering resources,
    • classroom management skills,
    • implementing curriculum,
    • assessment strategies,
    • planning units or lessons,
    • differentiating instruction,

    Once goals have been addressed and you feel that your needs have been met, peer support tapers off and ends.

Who will provide the service?

Peer consultants are STA member colleagues with extensive experience and background in multiple teaching strategies, and training in planning, consultation, classroom observation, analysis, and feedback skills. Consultants are matched with teacher-clients in similar grade or subject assignments.

Who will pay for the service?

There are no costs for the member. All costs are covered by the STA and the District.

For more information about the service, please contact the Professional Support Services officer, Pauline Veto at services@surreyteachers.org or call the STA office at (604) 594-5353.