Rural Saskatchewan Elementary K-6 Teachers' Perceptions
of Supervision and Professional Development
A report by Tracy Dollansky
 
SSTA Research Report #98-04: 31 pages, $11
 

 
Table of Contents 

Introduction 

Part I Effective Supervision: A Review of the Literature 

Part II Where Are We Now?: An Analysis of Rural Saskatchewan Elementary K-6 Teachersí Perceptions of Supervision 

Part III Looking Ahead: Implications for Theory, Practice, and Further Research 

References 

Appendix A Questionnaire: Rural Teachersí Perceptions of Supervision and Professional Development 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"Behind every successful school is an effective supervision program."  (Glickman, 1990) 

In recent years the issue of supervision has been discussed by teachers, school boards, parents, and the public. Current literature supports the need for a collaborative approach to the supervisory process, with value placed on teachersí perceptions of supervision, and teachersí input within the process. 

The study focused on rural K-6 teachersí perceptions of the supervisory process and its connection to professional development. A survey distributed to (485) rural elementary teachers provided data on supervision policy, supervisory environment, characteristics of an effective supervisor, and supervisory procedures.  Teachersí comments about supervision in general were analyzed and categorized by dominant themes. 

As a result of the study, implications for theory, practice, and further research have been provided which will ultimately lead to better classroom instruction and improved student learning. Materials from this study may provide assistance to boards in the process of policy development, and also to administrators and teachers currently implementing the supervisory process. 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
Teacher Supervision and Professional Development
Introduction

"Behind every successful school is an effective supervision program." "Supervision is the glue that holds a successful school together.....a process by which some person or group of people is responsible for providing a link between individual teacher needs and organizational goals so that individuals within the school can work in harmony toward their vision of what the school should be."

(Glickman, 1990, pp. 4-5)

In recent years the supervisory process has come under close scrutiny from educators, school boards, and the general public. The process has been examined and evaluated at all school levels. School boards have placed emphasis on the improvement of local policies that incorporate the ideals of current theorists (Joyce & Showers, 1988). Teachers have expressed interest in having input in such policy-making, and have sought accountability with respect to the implementation of the supervisory process. Even parents have initiated discussion about teaching evaluation and accountability. Clearly, the issue of supervision merits further discussion.

The underlying theme of this study rests with the belief that the supervisory process should be a collaborative effort that reflects the concerns of the individual teacher. Researchers (Glatthorn, 1990; Glickman, 1985; Hoy & Forsyth, 1986) emphasize the need to modify and change certain teaching behaviours, but they stress the importance of a collaborative effort among all parties involved in the supervisory process. Glatthorn (1990) suggests that a differentiated supervision model offers teachers four options for professional growth. Glickmanís (1981) model of developmental supervision encourages teachers and supervisors to work together so that teachersí needs may be met. Both models provide a forum where teachers play an active role in determining their own paths with respect to supervision.

The classroom teacher of the 90ís is inundated with new changes in curricula, extra-curricula responsibilities, and compounded emotional ties to teaching. A strong supervisory approach that allows educated, enlightened supervisors to facilitate instructional improvement is critical. To create a professional environment in schools, supervisors can provide opportunities for teachers to make choices, to observe each other, to discuss their work, and to seek opportunity for learning (Glickman, 1985). The need to provide an effective and efficient forum for teacher supervision is urgent if we wish to witness continual growth in teachers, whether they be beginning teachers, or experienced veterans. The belief is that all teachers can and will improve if direction and guidance is provided. Schools need leaders who strive to help others succeed.

Teacher supervision procedures ought to fulfill the teacherís needs for self evaluation and reflection through cognitive coaching, or peer coaching (Renihan, 1996). Peer coaching creates a positive atmosphere among staff members, increases teacher self-confidence, and contributes to professional growth (Showers & Joyce, 1996). Costa and Garmston (1994) confirm that cognitive coaching enhances the intellectual capacities of teachers, which, in turn, produces greater intellectual achievement in students. Through cognitive and peer coaching, teachers can isolate specific areas of improvement and begin to seek inservice and professional development activities that will improve their teaching techniques.

Stemming from the need for improved supervision of teachers is a need to develop a connection between supervision and professional development. Teacher growth is closely related to pupil growth (Joyce & Showers, 1988). Probably nothing within a school has more impact on students in terms of skill development, self-confidence, or classroom behaviour than the personal and professional growth of teachers (Barth, 1990, p. 49). Jonasson (1993) states that if we wish to promote learning in schools, we must invest time, money and energies into the training and development of teachers. The route taken in professional development should parallel teacher needs. If the goal for supervision is improved teaching and ultimately improved student learning, then educators must attempt to build a bridge between supervision and professional development (Jonasson, 1993).

A belief in the supervisory process and the need for professional development alone is not enough. Teachers and supervisors must actively engage in the process of supervision. Both parties must understand the characteristics of effective supervision and enthusiastically enter into the process (Glatthorn, 1984). Teachers should then have the opportunity to reflect on all aspects of teaching, and to participate in professional development activities that foster improved teaching.
 

Part I
Effective Supervision: A Review Of The Literature

Over the past few years scholars have attempted to build a bridge linking the supervisory process to professional development. Although theoretically the bridge appeared to be sound, as teachers and administrators ventured forth onto the bridge they found that the foundation was not solid concrete but instead, formed a swinging suspension bridge. The path was unsteady for both teacher and administrator.

When considering the analogy of the suspension bridge, we realize that supervision of professional personnel and its connection to professional development continues to be a major concern. For many administrators and teachers, supervision can be a frightening experience, but this need not be the case. If we believe the ultimate goal of the supervisory process is improvement of instruction, and the responsibility for instructional improvement rests with teachers themselves, then we as supervisors must become cognizant of models and processes that will provide the forum whereby teachers can advance across the bridge, meeting the supervisor half way, and can begin to improve in all areas of teaching. We can be enlightened by the knowledge provided by scholars, and encourage our teachers to familiarize themselves with current literature on effective supervision.

Teachers must become empowered to make professional decisions regarding their own development (McBride & Skau, 1995; Karant, 1989). These decisions may be made individually, or collaboratively with supervisors or peers. Hoy and Forsyth (1986) state that any attempt to change teaching behaviour must be facilitated by social support as well as professional and intellectual stimulation from colleagues. The primary goal of the supervisor is not simply to solve immediate problems, but to encourage teachers to jointly study all teaching related activities. Crucial for a successful teacher-supervisor relationship is the development of collaboration and trust. Working together, the bridge can be held steady so that teachers and administrators can journey from supervision to professional development together.

Supervision is complex, demanding, and continuous. As one goal is reached, a new goal is created. Effective supervisors use a problem solving approach that encourages teachers to become self reflective and choose their own paths with respect to professional development and ultimately improved teaching abilities. As the supervisory process is incorporated, both teacher and administrator emphasize a collaborative effort.

 
Definition of Supervision and Evaluation

The word supervision is derived from the two words "superior" and "vision". This implies a hierarchical relationship with the supervisor having superior knowledge and power (Jonasson, 1993). This image of supervision is inappropriate for the school environment, where ideally teachers and principals work together collaboratively. More appropriate is a definition that exemplifies a collaborative philosophy.

Experts in the field have defined supervision in a variety of ways. The following definitions reflect a comprehensive view of supervision, also termed "general supervision":

Supervision is the function in schools that draws together the discrete elements of instructional effectiveness into whole-school action (Glickman, 1985, p. 4).

Supervision of instruction is the set of activities designed to improve the teaching-learning process (Hoy & Forsyth, 1986, p. 3).

Supervision is what school personnel do with adults and things to maintain or change the school operation in ways that directly influence the teaching process employed to promote pupil learning...... Supervision is a major function of the school operation, not a task or specific job or a set of techniques (Harris, 1985, p. 10).

The comprehensive set of services provided and processes used to help teachers facilitate their own professional development so that the goals of the school district or the school might be better attained (Glatthorn, 1990, p. 84).

All of the above definitions view supervision as a set of services and processes that will lead to improved instruction. Often administrators periodically check classrooms to assure that an appropriate level of teaching performance is being attained. This checklist type of supervision typically occurs once or twice a year to determine if the curriculum is being followed, if lessons are geared to appropriate levels, and if classroom discipline is being maintained. This quick and easy supervision serves an administrative purpose but does not focus on professional development.

Supervision

Hoy and Forsyth (1986) define instructional supervision as "the set of activities designed to improve the teaching process. The purpose of supervision is not to control teachers, but to work cooperatively with them" (p. 3). The primary reason for implementing supervision is to help and support teachers as they adapt, adopt, and refine instructional practices in their classrooms (McQuarrie & Wood, 1991). In this situation, the role of the supervisor becomes that of a helper and supporter rather than a managerial administrator. Judgmental and controlling functions are removed from supervision. Ultimately, supervision is a process of facilitating the professional growth of a teacher, primarily by giving feedback about classroom interactions and helping the teacher make use of that feedback in order to make teaching more effective.

Evaluation

The purpose of evaluation is to make a judgment about a professional under review. The supervisor rates the adequacy of the performance as it relates to professional duties within the classroom. McQuarrie and Wood (1991) state that teacher evaluation can be defined as an administrative responsibility designed to assist districts in making decisions about the adequacy of performance so that decisions can be made about whether an employee will be retained. Evaluation, or "systematic evaluation" as defined by Glatthorn (1990), is a critical function of school administration, but should remain distinct from supervision.

 
Models of Supervision and Evaluation

There are several models of supervision from which educational leaders and teachers can draw upon. An effective supervision policy does not rely exclusively on one model, but draws on various models so that a program can facilitate the professional development of teachers in a school. Glatthorn (1990), Glickman (1985), and Hoy and Forsyth (1986), provide us with samples of effective models or patterns of supervision. Inherent in each model is the use of some type of clinical supervision.

Differentiated Supervision

Glatthornís (1990) model of "Differentiated Supervision" responds to the different needs and preferences of classroom teachers. It assumes that if teaching is a profession, and teachers are to be empowered, then teachers need to have control over their professional development within certain standards. All teachers need support and feedback, but that feedback need not come from only supervisors or administrators. The support can come from fellow teachers and even students. This approach helps the supervisor find time to focus his or her efforts where they are most needed.

The Differentiated approach offers four supervisory choices for teachers:

1. Intensive development (clinical)

2. Cooperative development (small teams)

3. Self-directed development (own progress)

4. Administrative monitoring

Intensive development. Intensive development, or clinical supervision, is a systematic, sequential, and cyclic supervisory process that involves the interaction between supervisors and teachers. Traditionally this has been an intensive skill-focused process that incorporates a "conference/observation/conference" cycle. Clinical supervision can be used with inexperienced teachers, experienced teachers who are experiencing difficulty, and experienced teachers looking to improve their teaching.

The focus of clinical supervision should be on formative evaluation that increases the effectiveness of on-going educational activity, rather than summative evaluation, which is concerned with judging and rating the teacher, and not helping improve teacher performance. This is not to say that teachers should not be accountable for their actions, but rather they should be professionally accountable, so that the accountability is growth-orientated.

Cooperative development. Cooperative development is a process of fostering teacher growth through systematic collaboration with peers. As teachers often naturally turn to each other for support and advice, the process is natural.

Costa and Kallick (1993) believe that a "critical friend" enhances the cooperative supervisory process. A critical friend provides feedback to the individual teacher or group. A critical friend is a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined from another perspective, and offers a critique of a personís work as a friend. The friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work being presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend becomes an advocate for the success of that work. Once trust has been established, the participants meet in conference style where they plan, discuss, and reflect on the work (pp. 49-50).

Several advantages can be cited as reasons for incorporating the cooperative process. Clearly principals cannot meet all support and assistance needs, and cooperative development provides a means of empowering teachers. Teachers become more committed to the concept of supervision if they are involved in the planning process. An increase in development of self-esteem of staff members is evidenced, and teachersí feelings of isolation are reduced as they can interact on an ongoing basis (Glatthorn, 1990, p.189). Emphasis is placed on reflection about teaching in a collaborative atmosphere where there is sharing of experience and insights.

Self-directed development. In self-directed development the individual teacher works independently on a program of professional growth. Special emphasis is placed on teacher autonomy. A trained specialist is not required as teachers set out their own professional growth goals, find the resources needed to achieve those goals, and undertake the steps needed to accomplish outcomes.

This process incorporates the principles of adult learning by responding to individual needs. Teachers as professionals are encouraged to make judgments about the teaching process and appraise their own performances. The success of this model necessitates that teachers choose meaningful and challenging goals, make use of all feedback received, and make constructive assessments of what they have accomplished.

Administrative monitoring. Administrative monitoring is a process by which the supervisor monitors the staff through brief, unannounced visits, simply to ensure that the teachers are carrying out their responsibilities. The process may include an evaluative element, however, it is not a substitute for systematic evaluative visits. The principal should be explicit with teachers about the relationship between administrative monitoring and evaluation.

Administrative monitoring gives the principal information about what is happening in the school, and enables him/her to be aware of any problems. Teachers see the principal as actively involved and concerned. This method is only successful when performed by a sensitive and trusted leader.

Developmental supervision

Glickman (1981) views educational supervision as a process for improving classroom and school practices by working directly with teachers. His model of developmental supervision allows supervisors to identify their own beliefs about the supervisory process, and to determine the appropriate amount and sequence of direction needed to improve teaching and learning. He is clearly an advocate of the belief that "no one approach works for all". When considering individual teacher development, including level of commitment and level of abstract thinking, the supervisor and/or teacher can choose an approach that will be most effective.

Glickman defines three orientations to supervision: directive, collaborative, and non-directive (p. 17).

Directive. In directive orientation, the supervisor emphasizes the behaviours of presenting, directing, demonstrating, standardizing, and reinforcing, in developing an assignment for teachers. The directive supervisor judges the most effective way to improve instruction by making standards clear, and by tangibly showing teachers how to attain such standards. It is a thoughtful, systematic-like approach, based on a careful collection of data. This approach implies that the supervisor is more knowledgeable about teaching, and that his or her decisions are more effective than the teachers are when seeking to improve instruction.

Collaborative. In the collaborative orientation, the behaviours of presenting, clarifying, listening, problem-solving, and negotiating are used to develop a contract between the teacher and the supervisor. With this approach the supervisor and teacher actively negotiate the plan of action. Neither the supervisor nor the teacher has a final plan that excludes the otherís view. The final product of the supervisory process is a contract, agreed to by both and carried out as a joint responsibility.

Non-directive. In the non-directive orientation, the behaviours of listening, encouraging, clarifying, presenting, and problem solving, are used to create a teacher self-plan. This plan rests on the premise that the teacher is capable of analyzing and solving his/her own instructional problems. When the teacher sees the need for change, s/he is more ready to implement such change. Throughout this process a clinical approach to supervision might not be incorporated. Instead, the supervisor might observe without interpreting or analyzing, and give the teacher the opportunity for self-analysis. If the teacher chooses the clinical route, s/he determines the direction of the supervisory process.

Systems Model of Supervision

For supervision purposes, Hoy and Forsyth (1986) view the classroom as a social system influenced by the interaction between bureaucratic expectations that include rules, regulations and policy, and individual teacher personality needs. They state that teachers react and perform differently due to the environment in which they are placed. The "Systems Model" approach to classroom performance views the school as an open system that identifies repeated cycles of input, transformation and output (Katz & Kahn, 1978).

In the open systems framework, teaching can be influenced by interactions that occur within a school environment. Such influences may include a schoolís formal organization, leadership styles, organizational climate, and resources. Five key classroom components also form a basis for analysis of the teaching-learning process. Teaching tasks, teachers, students, formal classroom organizations, and classroom climate are crucial elements within the classroom, and supervisors should consider all of these components as they attempt to understand and help teachers improve the teaching-learning process.

 
Characteristics of Effective Supervision

In order to characterize effective supervision we must consider effective leadership qualities, as leadership is a potent force for increasing supervisory effectiveness. Effective leaders make it possible for people to recognize and develop human characteristics for themselves. They arrange organizational conditions and methods of operation so that people can achieve their own goals best by directing their own efforts toward organizational objectives (Sergiovanni & Starratt, 1979) . This belief is consistent with the hopes of teachers, administrators and supervisors who are interested in raising the quality of life for students in our schools. Therefore, an effective supervisor is one who incorporates those human resources traits such as collaboration and trust. Supervisors can facilitate a teaching-learning environment that allows for teacher growth under teacher self-control.

Although leadership quality plays a significant role in effective supervision, there are specific skills and behaviours that can be learned by supervisors. Glatthorn (1990) cites three that, when mastered by supervisors, can enhance participatory supervision.

1. Effective supervisors employ techniques for observing and analyzing observational data.

2. Effective supervisors implement an established set of guidelines when holding supervisory conferences.

3. Effective supervisors use coaching to improve teacherís skills.

Opportunities can be provided where teachers can work together and share ideas with colleagues. Supervisors can work with teachers to provide these antecedent conditions, and also work to develop the teachersí sense of self-efficacy. They can create an awareness of the need to acquire a skill, and begin a process of defining the skill with the teachers. Supervisors can help teachers to reflect on why a skill is important, provide for guided practice through the coaching conference, and then allow teachers time for independent practice of the skill within the classroom.
 
Integrating Supervision and Professional Development

Inservice education of teachers has a long history, but present practices have not been well received by teachers. When mention is made of an upcoming inservice day, general responses tend to be, "Iíd rather spend a day in my classroom preparing for my students", or "These presenters havenít been in a classroom in years", or "I donít have those resources! How can this apply to me?" Teachers view many inservice programs as too formal, another teacher duty, and the result of administrative rather than teacher planning. If a connection between supervision and professional development is to become viable, professional development engaged in by teachers must be directly linked to individual need as determined by effective supervision.

Sergiovanni (1996) states the need for staff development orientation as opposed to in-service education orientation. He views staff development as not something schools do to teachers, but something teachers do for themselves. Inservice education assumes a deficiency in teachers and that certain skills need developing. Conversely, staff development does not assume a deficiency in teachers but rather assumes a need for people at work to grow and develop on the job. Staff development provides an avenue to increase the range of alternatives by which teachers can improve their teaching ability Supervisors can facilitate such growth. Moreover, supervisors can assist teachers in personal change-- the ability to see themselves, the school, curriculum, and students differently. Raising the quality of performance becomes the emphasis.

Professional development approaches emphasize providing teachers with a rich environment filled with teaching materials, media, books, and devices. With encouragement and support, teachers interact with this environment and with each other through exploration and discovery (Sergiovanni, 1996). Although training and professional development approaches share the purpose of helping teachers to improve their practice, teachersí capacities, needs, and interests must remain central. Bolin (1987) stresses the concept of renewal-- teachers continually revisiting and reflecting on themselves and the practice of teaching.

Professional development needs differ for novice and experienced teachers, and programs should be developed that acknowledge such differences. Veenman (1984) sees several problems associated with beginning teachers. Issues such as work overload, fatigue, and lack of time, are considered important when considering the needs of inexperienced teachers. Burden (cited in Glatthorn, 1990, p. 363) refers to "survival issues", where teachers worry about coping with multiple pressures of being a new teacher. Some professional development emphasis should be placed on these issues, but individual differences must also be considered.

Clinical supervision may be necessary with beginning teachers. New teachers can benefit from the developmental processes of pre-conference (planning), the observation, and the post-conference (feedback) (Acheson & Gall, 1987). A collaborative, problem-solving approach should be used until it appears that direct advice is needed.

Administrators can provide opportunities for novice teachers to engage in team teaching with experienced teachers. Such professional involvement would involve planning for teaching, team-teaching, and providing constructive feedback. Several sources, including Gray and Gray (1985), advocate the role of a mentor to provide situational leadership, be a role model, and be an advice giver. Administrators would see that mentors were well trained so as to be capable of providing the guidance needed for improved professional development of novice teachers.

Experienced teachers have special supervisory preferences and needs. Only a small percentage require the benefits of clinical supervision. Experienced teachers should be given the choice of working under a collaborative model, or in a self-directed mode (Glatthorn, 1990). Several Saskatchewan School Divisions provide in policy the opportunity for a teacher to choose a supervisory track that incorporates a choice in supervisory processes. If the essential teaching skills have been mastered, the experienced teachers will want to look to more advanced skills, and ultimately professional development activities that will improve their teaching in areas of personal interest. Experienced teachers may choose to use portfolios as a method of recording teaching experiences. They may also wish to engage in a cooperative relationship with a "critical friend", a colleague whom they trust to listen to their ideas and respond to their work with integrity.

 
Planning For Instructional Improvement

The goal of supervision must ultimately be the improvement of instruction. But the subject of improving instruction is complex, and there are no simple prescriptions of effective supervision. We do know that for the supervisory process to result in instructional improvement, the supervisor must be committed to look at several aspects within the school organization: school climate, working conditions, individuals within the organization, and the teaching task itself.

In order for the goal of improved instruction to be reached, the climate of interaction among teachers, and between teachers and principals, must be described as open, where cooperation and respect exist among all staff members. The principal as supervisor, must set the stage for the organizational life in the school by being supportive of teachers. Hoy and Forsyth (1986) state the importance of the collegial behaviour of teachers, where teachers are proud of their school. They respect, accept, and support each other, and feel a sense of accomplishment in their work. Such teachers respect the professional competence and dedication of their colleagues.

Supervisors have opportunities to influence not only the work itself, but also the conditions of the work. They can enhance teachersí motivation by empowering them with more authority, more freedom, and more responsibility in the improvement of instruction. They can use their influence with senior management in matters such as resources allocation, working conditions, and extra-curricular assignments, thus alleviating frustrations of teachers with respect to the work environment. As a result, the supervisor is able to motivate teachers and also take care of basic needs.

Hoy & Forsyth (1986) state that supervisors must be committed to the "teaching task" when discussing instructional improvement (p. 254). They must understand the preinstruction or planning elements, initiate implementation or learning activities, and also encorporate some form of evaluation or feedback about the success of the learning and instruction. Classroom performance is most effective when teachers are able to master implementation of the above elements while also considering the interactions between all other components of the classroom social system including the teacher, student, classroom climate, and formal classroom arrangements. Effective supervision in these areas leads to instructional improvement.

 
Conceptual Framework

Supervision is a comprehensive set of processes that allows teachers to facilitate their own professional growth. The supervisory process should focus on the concerns and choices of the individual teacher (Glatthorn, 1990). The process gives teachers the support and knowledge they need to change themselves.

Within the conceptual framework (see Figure 1), teachers and supervisors collaboratively choose between the route of supervision and evaluation. The definitions of supervision and evaluation remain distinct. Teacher evaluation is viewed as a critical function of administration, but systematic evaluation of teacher performance remains separate from supervision (Glatthorn, 1984, p. 2).

Teachers may choose from a variety of options including: administrative monitoring, self-directed development, cooperative development, and clinical supervision (e.g. Glatthorn, 1984). Administrative monitoring is a process by which the supervisor monitors staff through brief, unannounced visits, to ensure that teachers are carrying out their responsibilities. In self-directed development, individual teachers work independently on a program of professional growth. Cooperative development is a process of fostering teacher growth through systematic collaboration with peers. Clinical supervision (Goldhammer, Anderson, & Krajewski, 1993; Acheson & Gall, 1987; Cogan, 1973) is a three-step process consisting of planning, data-collection, and decision-making. The clinical process may be implemented in both the supervisory and evaluative procedures, but the outcomes will differ. Supervision stresses instructional improvement as the outcome, and provides the groundwork for future planning. The outcome in the evaluation process is summative, with decision-making responsibility resting with the supervisor. The issue becomes teacher accountability.

As noted in Figure 1, the supervisory process remains developmental, considering teachersí stages of development (Glickman, 1981; Glatthorn, 1990). The framework provides teachers with an opportunity for continuous reflection about all aspects of teaching. Teachers then determine their own personal routes for professional development. The outcome is an improvement in the quality of teaching.

 
Summary

Many scholars have considered the topic of supervision in recent years, but no single widely accepted model of effective supervision has been found. A synthesis of several scholarís theories (Glattthorn, 1990; Glickman, 1985; Hoy & Forsyth, 1986) provides a solid foundation for defining effective supervision, and the opportunity to begin building a strong, solid bridge between supervision and professional development.

Effective supervision of professional personnel can best be described as a relationship that hinges upon collegial attitudes and approaches. As Renihan and Renihan (1983) suggest, the supervisory process should not be a battle between two opponents, but rather an opportunity for both supervisor and teacher to become enlightened and grow. Teachers and administrators must work together to secure the swinging bridge so that the journey between supervision and professional development is secure.

Effective supervisors must consider several factors when implementing a successful supervisory program. Clearly, both supervisor and teacher must feel comfortable with the choice of supervisory practices. When teachers are included in the process, they appreciate that they have been given a choice, and they value the professional dialogue that occurs. The teachersí stage of development must also be considered.

The ultimate goal of supervision must be the improvement of classroom instruction. Administrators can facilitate this growth by providing a forum where open communication can flourish and professional development activities can be decided upon through a jointly, collaborative effort between teacher and supervisor. A synergistic approach will build a bridge that consequently results in better learning opportunities for students.

 
Part II
Where Are We Now?: An Analysis Of Rural Saskatchewan Elementary K-6 Teachersí Perceptions of Supervision.

The purpose of this study was to determine teachers' perceptions about the nature of supervision and professional development in rural Saskatchewan elementary K-6 schools. Information was collected by means of a questionnaire designed by the researcher for this study (see Appendix A). The format of the questionnaire consisted of four sections that included: general information about supervision, reactions to the supervisory process, connection between supervision and professional development, and qualities of an effective supervisor. The respondent group consisted of 485 teachers from 42 (K-6) rural Saskatchewan schools, each consisting of 5 or more full time teachers. Approximately 40% of those surveyed responded to the questionnaire.

The items analyzed were related to general information about a) the supervisory process, b) the connections between supervision and professional development, and c) the perceived qualities of an effective supervisor.

The following conclusions can be drawn:

a) Supervisory Process

1. In general, rural Saskatchewan teachers were aware of their division board supervision policy. More experienced teachers seemed to be more aware of policy content than less experienced teachers.

2. More than two-thirds of the teachers in this study had experienced one or less than one formal supervisory visit per year. In fact, 12 % of the population had received no supervision at all. Those teachers receiving no supervision averaged over twenty years of experience, indicating those more experienced teachers were receiving even less supervision. Clearly the amount of supervision being received seemed inadequate.

3. Teachers agreed that tenured, non-tenured teachers, and teachers experiencing difficulty all require different methods and amounts of supervision. Rural elementary teachers believed a tenured teacher should be supervised between once and 2-3 times per year. Non-tenured teachers should receive supervision between 2-3 and 3-4 times per year. Teachers experiencing difficulty required most supervision, between 3-4 and 5 times per year. The results suggested that non-tenured teachers and those experiencing difficulty should receive more or at least different supervision from tenured teachers. Clearly teachers' preference for supervisory assistance depends on their career stage (Glatthorn, 1990).

4. This study concluded that a large number of teachers (94.6%) wanted to be supervised "more than one full class period" or "one full class period". Clearly they wanted the supervisor to observe an entire lesson.

5. Researchers (Glatthorn, 1990; Glickman, 1985; Hoy & Forsyth, 1986) state that all teachers can benefit from supervision. In this study teachers responded strongly to this question stating that they believed all teachers could benefit from supervision. The findings suggested that teachers were also adamant that supervision should not be reserved for only new teachers or those experiencing difficulty.

6. Researchers (Glatthorn, 1990; Glickman, 1985; Hoy & Forsyth, 1986) state that all teachers can benefit from supervision. In this study teachers strongly supported this statement by saying that they believed all teachers could benefit from supervision. The findings suggested that teachers were also adamant that supervision should not be reserved for only new teachers or those experiencing difficulty. Therefore supervisory plans must be in place to accommodate the needs of all teachers, ensuring that even those teachers doing their jobs well will also experience professional growth as a result of supervision.

7. It was concluded that, in general, beginning teachers were receiving adequate supervision. As open-ended comments were analyzed at the conclusion of the study, several suggestions were offered for supervising new teachers. Teachers wanted supervisors to provide guidance and support for beginning teachers and wanted the number of supervisory visits to be frequent enough to determine both strengths and weaknesses in teaching ability.

8. Glickman (1985) suggests that supervision is a collaborative enterprise that draws together different elements into a whole school action plan. Teachers also firmly believed that supervision should be a collaborative effort between teacher and supervisor, but that in rural Saskatchewan elementary schools this was not occurring. There was strong support that supervision should promote professional growth and trust among staff, and teachers should be involved in the planning of the supervisory process prior to supervision.

9. Glickman (1985) and Glatthorn (1990) recommend that supervision should be tailored to meet the needs of teachers. In this study, teachers felt that in general supervision was individualized to meet their needs. They wanted supervisory choices to be available to teachers in each school. They also clearly believed that supervisory practices should consider developmental stages, and focus on specific needs of each teacher.

b) Supervision and Professional Development

1. Effective schools link professional development, teacher supervision, and student learning (Jonasson, 1993). Study results showed that teachers perceived that a relationship exists between supervision and professional development to a small degree. Teachers did not believe that teachers participated in professional development activities as a result of supervision.

2. Teachers must become empowered to make professional decisions about their own development (Karant, 1989). In doing so they begin to choose paths that meet their individual needs. Teachers in this study did not feel that supervisors had the knowledge or ability to make decisions about professional development activities. They wanted control of that decision making process to lie with the group or with individual teachers. Clearly teachers wanted to be empowered to make choices about professional development.

3. The ultimate goal of supervision should be improved instruction (Renihan, 1996). Data from this study showed that rural teachers remained almost neutral in their response to whether instruction had improved as a result of supervision.

c) Effective Supervisory Qualities

1. Acheson and Smith (1986) stated that supervision should be provided by a knowledgeable, specially trained, trustworthy, experienced, and supportive supervisor. Teachers wanted their supervisors to have knowledge about effective teaching, have training in supervisory techniques, establish a trusting relationship with them, hold a post-observation conference to provide feedback as soon as possible after observation, and provide for reflective discussion following supervision.

2. In general, rural Saskatchewan teachers believed the process of supervision to be important. Each of the four types of supervision as outlined by Glatthorn (1990) were valued by teachers to varying degrees. For those who used cooperative development, it was deemed effective, but approximately 48 % of the respondents claimed cooperative development was not applicable to their situation. Over 70% of the responding teachers were satisfied with self-directed development. On average, teachers were slightly less satisfied with administrative monitoring, ranking it between "moderately effective" and "effective". Study results indicated that teachers were generally satisfied with the types of supervisory processes being provided. However, it appeared that teachers needed more opportunity to engage in a variety of approaches.

3. Some teachers confuse supervision with "getting the dirt" on them (Acheson & Gall, 1992). Others see it as a mindless process for administrators to meet district requirements (Zepeda & Ponticell, 1995). But study results showed that teachers in rural Saskatchewan elementary K-6 schools were generally quite satisfied with the quality and quantity of supervision being provided. Comments provided at the end of the survey tended to support this claim.

Interestingly, teachers in this survey did not see a strong connection between supervision and professional development. Are teachers satisfied with the quality and quantity of supervision merely because they are supervised so infrequently and are not being inconvenienced by the process? Is supervision doing what it was intended to do, that is, resulting in professional growth that leads to improved teaching?

 
 
Summary

For the most part, despite some of the hindering factors that were given, the data indicated that teachers in rural Saskatchewan elementary K-6 schools were relatively satisfied with the supervision being provided. Both satisfied and dissatisfied teachers expressed similar needs when discussing the process. Factors such as a trusting supervisor and supervisory environment, time, supervisor and teaching training, peer supervision, conferencing, supervision of new and at-risk teachers, professional development plans, formal and informal supervisory visits, new supervision policy and implementation, and teacher choice in the supervisory process, were all important to teachers. Most teachers came to the same consensus about effective supervisory qualities. Supervision did appear to result in improved instruction to some degree, and it was viewed as an important factor in contributing to the professional development of teachers. Teachers wanted a stronger connection between supervision and professional development that would lead to improved instruction.

 
Part III:
Looking Ahead: Implications For Theory, Practice, And Further Research
Implications for Theory

The conceptual framework, as described in the literature review, incorporated the ideals of Glatthorn (1990) and Glickman (1985). Supervision was viewed as a set of processes that allowed for teacher professional growth. The process allowed teachers the opportunity to choose between supervision and evaluation. Supervision was both developmental, as it considered teachers' career stages, and differentiated, as it allowed for teacher choice in supervisory options. Inherent in the successful implementation of the process, although not included in this framework, was a belief that the supervisor would employ effective supervisory qualities and techniques.

A revision to this framework would include those qualities deemed necessary by the respondents in this study. For administrative monitoring, clinical, cooperative, and self-directed supervisory processes to be effective, supervisors must possess certain qualities and remain conscious of influential variables or themes that were outlined by teachers in this study. Issues of time, supervisory training, creating a trusting environment, etc. was related to teachers' perceived levels of satisfaction with the supervisory process. Future discussions of effective supervisory processes must include these elements.

This study further added to the literature on supervision as developmental (Glickman, 1985) and differentiated (Glatthorn, 1990). It supported the need to allow teachers choice in the supervisory process. By maintaining an active role in the process, teachers at various career stages can take control of their own growth. Teachers in this study wanted to be active researchers who sought to improve their own teaching. They wanted to be involved in supervision, and they wanted to choose their own supervisory options.

The study also emphasized the need for a strong connection between supervision and professional development. Rural elementary teachers desired long-term professional development plans with consistent follow-up procedures. The outcome of supervision must be activities that result in an improved quality of teaching and student learning.

 
 

Implications for Practice

Based on the findings of this study and the literature review, the following recommendations are made to enhance the supervisory process in Saskatchewan schools.

1. Supervisory practices should be clearly outlined in school division policy, and administrators will have to reinforce the value of supervision, its connection to professional development and growth, and its relationship to improved teaching. Supervision must be a priority in schools. An allocation of funds by the school board designated for supervision would reflect this level of importance.

2. In order to improve supervisory practices there is a need to establish a mandatory training program in the supervisory process for both administration and teachers. The program would increase the knowledge base and skill levels of stakeholders involved in the process. Teachers and supervisors would improve interpersonal, co-operative, and coaching skills, and increase their knowledge about methods of supervision including clinical supervision, co-operative development, self-directed development, and administrative monitoring. The training program would provide opportunity for practicing the acquisition of the skills.

3. Sufficient time must be provided to administrators to implement a successful supervisory program. School divisions can provide the needed financial assistance to allow supervisors ample time in the classroom. Time allows for pre and post- conferencing, which results in effective planning and reflective discussion. Administrative time is also needed if principals are to offer teachers the opportunity to engage in peer supervision practices, or visit other classrooms for observation purposes.

4. All teachers benefit from supervision, but great emphasis should be placed on the need for effective supervision of beginning teachers. Beginning teachers have clearly expressed the desire for constructive supervision. Consideration must be given to both the quality and quantity of the supervision. Support and constructive guidelines must be provided. New teachers must remain accountable for their teaching, but in turn deserve a sufficient record of their teaching ability to be used as a reference if tenure has not be attained and they wish to assume a teaching position in another location.

5. Supervisors must have classroom experience. Teachers expressed the need for supervisors to be in touch with what is going on in classrooms. Supervisors need to personally understand classroom dynamics, management styles, and curriculum for each grade with which they are involved. When administrative responsibilities are outlined, consideration must be given to allow administrators ample time to teach as well.

6. Professional growth plans should be provided that link the process of supervision to professional development. Under the guidance of the administrator, goals and objectives for individual teachers must be established, and follow-up sessions must be planned and executed to assure that these goals are met. Professional development activities must reflect the needs and concerns of individuals.
 

Implications for Further Research
There are several possibilities for further study that can be initiated as a result of this study.

1. This study focussed on the perceptions of approximately 466 rural Saskatchewan elementary teachers in 42 schools each consisting of five or more full-time teachers in 30 school divisions. Further study could be done with a sample consisting of: (a) all Saskatchewan elementary teachers, (b) Saskatchewan city elementary teachers, or (c) rural and/or city high school teachers. Case study approaches could focus on more intimate details of the supervisory approach. Personal interviews would supplement the questionnaire data.

2. Glickman (1985) emphasizes the importance of teachers' developmental stages. A more in-depth study could describe perceptions of supervision during different career stages.

3. Additional study could determine the relationship between professional development growth plans and improved teaching.

4. Further study could focus on a comparison of the effect and success among Glatthorn's (1990) four supervisory choices (clinical, co-operative development, self-directed development, and administrative monitoring) with respect to improved instruction.

5. The development of an effective supervisory training program could be the focus of a thesis project.

6. A comparison study could examine and compare principals' perceptions of the supervisory process within the rural schools included in this study.
 

 

References

Acheson, K. A., & Gall, M. D. (1992). Techniques in the clinical supervision of teacher. (3rd ed.). New York: Longman Inc.

Acheson, K. A., & Gall, M. D. (1987). Techniques in the clinical supervision of teachers: Preservice and inservice applications. (2nd ed.). New York: Longman Inc.

Acheson, K. A., & Smith, S. C. (1986). It is time for the principals to share the responsibility for instructional leadership with others. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED 267510.

Barth, R. (1990). Improving schools from within. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Bolin, F. S. (1987). Reassessment and renewal in teaching. Teacher renewal: Professional issues, personal choices. New York: Teachers College Press.

Cogan, M. (1973). Clinical supervision. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Costa, A. L., & Garmston, R. J. (1994). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.

Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (1993). Through the lens of a critical friend. Educational Leadership, 51 (2), 49-51.

Glatthorn, A. (1990). Supervisory leadership: Introduction to instructional supervision. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman & Co.

Glatthorn, A. (1984). Differentiated supervision. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

Glickman, C. D. (1990). Supervision of instruction: A developmental approach. (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Glickman, C. C. (1985). Supervision of instruction: A developmental approach. Newton, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Glickman, C. D. (1985). The supervisorís challenge: Changing the teacherís work environment. Educational Leadership, 42, 38-40.

Glickman, C. D. (1981). Developmental supervision: Alternative practices for helping teachers improve instruction. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

Goldhammer, R., Anderson, R. H., & Krajewski, R. J. (1993). Clinical supervision: Special methods for the supervision of teachers. (3rd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Gray, W. A., & Gray, M. M. (1985). Synthesis on research on mentoring beginning teachers. Educational Leadership, 43 (3), 37-43.

Harris, B. M. (1985). Supervisory behaviour in education. (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Hoy, W. K., & Forsyth, P. B. (1986). Effective supervision: Theory into practice. New York: Random House.

Jonasson, H. G. (1993). Effective schools link professional development, teacher supervision and student learning. Canadian School Executive, 12, 18-21.

Joyce, B., & Showers, B. (1988). Student achievement through staff development. New York: Longman.

Karant, V. (1989). Supervision in the age of teacher empowerment. Educational Leadership, 46 (8), 27-30.

Katz, D. & Kahn, R. L. (1978). The social psychology of organizations. (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.

McBride, M., & Skau, K. G. (1995). Trust, empowerment, and reflection: Essentials of supervision. Journal of Curriculum Supervision, 10, 262-277.

McQuarrie, F. O. Jr., & Wood, F. H. (1991). Supervision, staff development, and evaluation connections. Theory into Practice, 30, 91-96.

Renihan, P. (1996). Supervision for the improvement of classroom instruction. Saskatoon: Unpublished manuscript.

Renihan, F., & Renihan, P. (1983). How to be supervised: Political games and rational suggestions. Education Canada, 23, 20-25.

Sergiovanni, T. J. (1996). Leadership for the schoolhouse. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sergiovanni, T. J., & Starratt, R. J. (1979). Supervision: Human perspectives. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Showers, B. & Joyce, B. (1996). The evolution of peer coaching. Educational Leadership, 53 (6), 12-16.

Veenman, S. (1984). Perceived problems of beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research, 54 (2), 43-178.

Zepeda, S. J., & Ponticell, J. A. (1995). The supervisory continuum: A developmental approach. NASSP Practitioner, 22 (1), 1-4.

 

Appendix A
 
Teacher Questionnaire
Rural Teachersí Perceptions of Supervision and Professional Development

 

RURAL TEACHERSí PERCEPTIONS OF
SUPERVISION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
TEACHERSí SURVEY FORM
When completing the survey, please relate to your supervisory experiences. When applicable, consider the principal as the supervisor.
PART A- General Information

Please complete the following information:

1. Gender (Please circle) Male Female

2. Age (Please check)

_____ under 25 years

_____ 26-35 years

_____ 36-45 years

_____ 46+ years

3. Years of teaching experience (Please include current year)

In this school ________ Total years of teaching experience ________

4. My principal has _____ % administration time.

Please check the most appropriate option.

5. On average I am formally supervised ________ .

_____ 5 or more times per year

_____ 3-4 times per year

_____ 2-3 times per year

_____ once per year

_____ once in two years

_____ 0 times per year

6. On average I observe a colleague teaching ________ .

_____ 5 or more times per year

_____ 3-4 times per year

_____ 2-3 times per year

_____ once per year

_____ once in two years

_____ 0 times per year

7. In my opinion a non-tenured teacher should be supervised ________ .

_____ 5 or more times per year

_____ 3-4 times per year

_____ 2-3 times per year

_____ once per year

_____ once in two years

8. A tenured teacher should be supervised __________.

_____ 5 or more times per year

_____ 3-4 times per year

_____ 2-3 times per year

_____ once per year

_____ once in two years

9. A teacher experiencing difficulty in the classroom should be supervised ________.

_____ 5 or more times per year

_____ 3-4 times per year

_____ 2-3 times per year

_____ once per year

_____ once in two years

10. When conducting a formal observation, a supervisor should spend at least ________ in the classroom.

_____ more than one full class period

_____ one full class period

_____ one half class period

_____ one quarter class period

_____ less than one quarter class period

 

 

For the following questions, please circle the appropriate number on the scale.

11. I perceive supervision to be:
Not Important
0
1
2
3
4
5
Highly Important

     
12. I am satisfied with the amount of supervision being provided in this school.
Not Satisfied
0
1
2
3
4
5
Highly Satisfied

 
13. I am satisfied with the quality of supervision being provided in this school.

Not Satisfied
0
1
2
3
4
5
Highly Satisfied

 

14. I am involved in peer (collaborative) supervision activities in my school.

Not Involved
0
1
2
3
4
5
Highly Involved

15. The supervision I receive meets my individual needs.

Strongly  Disagree
0
1
2
3
4
5
Strongly Agree

16. I am aware of the contents of my Division Boardís Supervision Policy.

Strongly  Disagree
0
1
2
3
4
5
Strongly Agree

17. My division policy allows me to choose my type of supervision.

Strongly  Disagree
0
1
2
3
4
5
Strongly Agree

 

For the following question, please circle the number that indicates the appropriate level of effectiveness.

Not Effective(NE)=1

Slightly Effective(SE)=2

Moderately Effective (ME)=3

Effective (E)=4

Highly Effective (HE)=5

Not Applicable (N/A)=6

 

18. Which of the following supervisory processes are meeting

your supervisory needs? Clinical supervision (conference/observation/conference) 1 2 3 4 5 6

Cooperative development (small teams) 1 2 3 4 5 6

Self-directed development (own progress) 1 2 3 4 5 6

Administrative monitoring (completed by principal) 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

PART B- Reactions To Supervision Approaches

For each of the following statements about the supervisory process, please circle the number that indicates your level of agreement.

Strongly Disagree(SD)=1

Disagree(D)=2

Neutral(N)=3

Agree(A)=4

Strongly Agree(SA)=5

 

SD D N A SA

1. I am convinced of the need for supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

2. Supervision should be reserved for those teachers who are new or experiencing difficulty. 1 2 3 4 5

3. Every teacher can benefit from supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

4. Supervision should be a collaborative effort between teacher and supervisor. 1 2 3 4 5

5. Supervision should promote professional growth and trust among staff. 1 2 3 4 5

6. Supervisory choices should be available to teachers in each school. 1 2 3 4 5

7. Beginning teachers receive adequate supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

8. Teachers should be involved in the planning of the supervisory process prior to supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

9. Supervisory practices should not consider the developmental stages of individual teachers. 1 2 3 4 5

10. Supervision should not focus on the needs of the teacher. 1 2 3 4 5

 

PART C- Supervision and the Connection to Professional Development

For each of the following statements about professional development, please circle the number that indicates your level of agreement, based on your own experience.

Strongly Disagree(SD)=1

Disagree(D)=2

Neutral(N)=3

Agree(A)=4

Strongly Agree(SA)=5

 

SD D N A SA

1. There is a clear connection between supervision and professional development. 1 2 3 4 5

2. Supervisors have the knowledge and ability to select professional development activities for staff. 1 2 3 4 5

3. Teachers participate in professional development activities as a result of supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

4. Choice of professional development activities should collectively include all staff members. 1 2 3 4 5

5. Supervision contributes to the professional development of teachers. 1 2 3 4 5

6. Professional development opportunities should be chosen by the teacher. 1 2 3 4 5

 

For the following question, please circle the appropriate number on the scale.

7. My classroom instruction has improved as a result of supervision to the following extent:

No Great
Improvement
0
1
2
3
4
5
Improvement

If you have not received any supervision, please comment.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

PART D- Qualities Of An Effective Supervisor

For each of the following statements about the characteristics of an effective supervisor, please circle the number that indicates your level of agreement.

Strongly Disagree(SD)=1

Disagree(D)=2

Neutral(N)=3

Agree(A)=4

Strongly Agree(SA)=5

A supervisor should:

SD D N A SA 1. assist me in developing my personal professional growth plan. 1 2 3 4 5

2. provide me with a written statement defining my job and detailing my responsibilities. 1 2 3 4 5

3. help me to plan units and lessons. 1 2 3 4 5

4. hold a pre-observation conference with me prior to any supervisory/evaluative visit. 1 2 3 4 5

5. confer with me about objectives for the lesson to be observed. 1 2 3 4 5

6. spend sufficient time observing me to secure a valid and reliable sample of my teaching behaviour. 1 2 3 4 5

7. hold a post-observation conference with me to give me feedback as soon as possible after any observation visits. 1 2 3 4 5

8. provide me with the opportunity to visit the classrooms of other teachers in different schools. 1 2 3 4 5

9. respond to the unique concerns and needs of new teachers. 1 2 3 4 5

10. facilitate the mutual exchange of ideas and information between teachers. 1 2 3 4 5

11. provide me with a detailed report following supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

12. allow me to choose my own route for professional development. 1 2 3 4 5

13. assist me in selecting an appropriate supervisory route. 1 2 3 4 5

14. outline my weaknesses during the supervisory observation. 1 2 3 4 5

15. have knowledge about effective teaching. 1 2 3 4 5

16. provide time for reflective discussion following supervision. 1 2 3 4 5

17. determine teachersí areas for professional development. 1 2 3 4 5

18. establish a trusting relationship with me. 1 2 3 4 5

19. have training in supervisory techniques. 1 2 3 4 5

In general, how do you feel about the current supervisory practices used in your school?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you have any additional comments on the supervisory process, please include them in the space below, or on the back of this page.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Thank You For Your Assistance
 
 
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