Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Rachael Helfrick

Second Advisor

Aly McDowell


The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in several challenges for students and teachers in the United States. The introduction of virtual instruction was a challenge for many, especially teachers. As many educators attempted to determine how to best support their students and teachers, the latter looked for ways to create lessons and connect with students like they had not done before. A solution to help teachers navigate the time spent teaching virtually was peer observations during lessons, which allowed them to seek help from expert teachers as well as lend a hand to those who were struggling. Peer observations have been used in secondary education and other educational settings for over 50 years. During the pandemic, teachers relied upon one another for the same kind of support and expertise. For example, teachers in an urban eastern Texas city who faced the rapid implementation of virtual teaching during the pandemic asserted that peer observations as well as other forms of peer support helped many of them get through the struggles of virtual instruction. This interpretative phenomenological analysis employs Lev Vygotsky’s and Jenni Donohoo’s constructivist framework to answer the following questions: What are secondary teachers’ perceptions about leveraging virtual peer observations and feedback as a professional development tool? How do secondary teachers feel about the use of peer observations in virtual secondary classrooms? How do secondary teachers define peer observations for professional development? How do secondary teachers perceive the role of virtual peer observations in their professional practice? An analysis of six interview transcripts detailing the participating teachers’ experiences with virtual instruction and peer observations revealed five major themes: virtual peer observations, relationships, support and lack thereof, stress, and time. The study shows how teachers felt barely prepared to teach virtually in the early months of the pandemic, after March 2020, and how they almost fully relied on one another for support and direction regarding instruction. Recommendations for practice include continued professional development in digital learning and peer observations as well as expanded access to other teachers on other campuses to understand how they teach, manage their classrooms, and formulate lessons.

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