Instructional Supervisory Policies and Practices
by Scott Tunison
SSTA Research Centre Report #98-05: 29 pages, $11
 
Table of Contents

Introduction  
Part I - Toward Effective Policy 

Part II - The Nature of Supervisory Practice and Policies  Part III - The Interaction of Policy and Supervision: A Look at Educators' Perceptions of Supervisory Practice  References
Overview

Most organizations, including school divisions, tend to believe that there is a high level of agreement between the intention and the experience of their policies. The basis for that belief may simply be a "feeling" held by the policy makers or administrators that people are doing what is expected of them. 

The purpose of this study was to describe superintendent, principal, and teacher perceptions of a policy, in this case an instructional supervisory policy. In addition, those perceptions were analyzed and compared in order to determine the congruence among policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-experience. 

The study found that there was, in fact, little agreement with respect to the intent, implementation, and experience of the instructional supervisory policy. This lack of agreement has some serious implications for school boards. 

This document, therefore, provides a brief review of the literature concerning both effective policies and instructional supervision, an overview of the data collected in the school system under study, and a discussion and analysis of the data as well as a series of suggestions for improved practice. 

In an effort to determine the underlying causes of the negativity surrounding supervision, this document examines the principles of both policy making and instructional supervision with a view to describing the effects of written policies upon effective supervisory practice.

 
INTRODUCTION

The practice of instructional supervision of teachers is a contentious issue in today’s educational circles. Many educators are critical of current supervisory practice and, especially, of those individuals who perform the task while at the same time, they tend to support the practice. Kauchak, Peterson and Driscoll (1985), in their study of teachers’ attitudes toward teacher supervisory practice, illustrate much of the criticism of current supervisory practice with the observation that "teachers viewed them [supervisory visits] as being perfunctory with little or no impact on actual teaching performance" (p. 2). Glickman (1990), on the other hand, supports the practice of instructional supervision with his observation that "... we can think of supervision as the glue of a successful school" (p. 4).

If supervision is the glue, one must wonder just how strong the bond is and why the practice comes under such heavy fire. Supervisors may be at fault due to a lack of practical training. As pointed out by Alfonso (1984) and his colleagues, "a major deterrent to full professional status of educational supervisors is an ill-defined knowledge base and a lack of an agreed-upon set of professional skills [which] have remained remarkably undefined and random, partly because the theoretical base is so thin" (p. 1). Boards of education may also be at fault due to poorly written policies governing the practice of supervision. "The policy which was intended ... often turns out not to be the policy which is written ... or the policy adapted in the process of devising the rules and regulations which accompany its promulgation" (Lincoln & Guba, 1986, p. 554).
 
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PART I
TOWARD EFFECTIVE POLICY

The literature concerning educational policy-making is rife with disagreement. Among the plethora of articles and books written in the area of policy, "the ERIC system alone contains more than 28,000 entries with both ‘education(al)’ and ‘policy(ies)’ among their key descriptors ..." (Mitchell, 1984, p. 129), there is scant evidence of commonality. Caldwell and Spinks (1988) suggest that the reason for this disagreement is that "conceptually, there is lack of agreement on the meaning of the term ‘policy’, which is often defined either too broadly, in terms of a set of goals or in a statement of belief, or too narrowly, in terms of a detailed specification of a course of action to be followed or a set of rules and procedures" (p. 90). However, if one examines the literature more carefully, it becomes clear that the root of the difficulty for most of the writers in the discipline is in developing an acceptable phrase that precisely captures the essence of policy.

The objective of part I, therefore, is to examine the literature surrounding educational policy making in order to develop an effective definition of policy. This definition will then be used to provide the basis for discussions around the nature of effective policy, the models of policy making, and, finally, the conditions for effective policy implementation.
 

Policy Definitions

Dykes (1965), in his examination of the working relationships between school boards and superintendents, surfaces a number of concepts pertinent to a definition of policy. He states that policy is "... agreement on what is expected..." (p. 111). Further, in the educational context, he adds "the real need is for the board and the superintendent to decide what each is to do and lay out the processes and procedures which will lead to proper performance of these duties" (p. 111). Next, he argues, policies are "operational principles [which] state the general methods, processes, and procedures through which the board and the superintendent will discharge their respective duties and responsibilities" (p. 114). Therefore, he proposes that policies "... establish goals and objectives and determine in broad outline how they are to be achieved" (p. 10).

A common view of policy is that it dictates, often with some room for discretion, that certain actions should be taken in specific

situations for certain reasons or objectives. Caldwell and Spinks (1988) suggest that " a policy is a set of guidelines which provide a framework for action in achieving some purpose on a substantive issue...they imply an intention and a pattern for taking action" (p. 90). Therefore, "a policy is established to achieve some purpose, which invariably reflects a set of beliefs or values or philosophy on the issue concerned" (Caldwell & Spinks, 1988, p. 90).

Some writers, on the other hand, believe that policies simply denote whatever is important in an organization especially in terms of controlling, limiting or defining appropriate action. Carver and Carver (1996) suggest that policy is "...the value or perspective that underlies action..."(p. 6). From this value perspective, they propose, a school board may exercise control by limiting action rather than prescribing it. Thus, policy defines a school board’s expectations in a way that effectively controls the actions of the professional staff in virtually all areas of the day to day operation of a school system (Carver & Carver, 1996).

Policy, it seems, has been traditionally viewed in most administrative contexts, as those decisions made by individuals in power to exercise control over those who must obey. Sergiovanni, Burlingame, Coombs, and Thurston (1987) point out that "the policy process is presumed to be the arena for shaping our future by providing the decision-making structures designed to harness the implementing decisions of administrators and professionals" (p. 56). However, this traditional view of clear lines between policy decision and action "... is largely imaginary ..." (Sergiovanni et al., 1987, p. 186). In reality, there are no clearly-cut distinctions between the policy framers and the policy implementers. In fact, those who make policies are very often the people who must implement and obey them. Thus, "the stating of policy is typically a subjective process that seeks to maximize certain values and aspirations thought to be important" (Sergiovanni et al., 1987, p. 57). Therefore, "... we may define a policy as any authoritative communication about how individuals in certain positions should behave under specified conditions" (Sergiovanni et al., 1987, p. 186).

From the above suggested definitions, one can glean key words and phrases which appear to capture the essence of policy and combine them to synthesize an effective definition of policy. Words and phrases such as "value statements", "communication", "efficient public service", "decisions", and "choices" speak to various aspects of policy making. Thus, policy may be defined as those general regulations made by governing or administrative bodies that communicate value statements which are intended to give acceptable choices for decision making especially in problem or controversial areas.
 

The Characteristics of Effective Policy

If one can assume that all policies are not created equal and that some policies are "better" or more effective than others, one must examine those policies considered to be effective in changing target group behaviour in order to describe the characteristics of effective policy. While "policy design will not provide the analytic or procedural Rosetta stone that will translate all our good intentions into effective policies" (deLeon, 1992, p. 401), there are some characteristics common to effective policies that one can identify to make policy framing more scientific and precise, and more likely to be successful in achieving desired behaviours.

One characteristic of effective policy is the size or magnitude of the change in behaviour targeted by the policy itself. Charles Lindblom (1979), in his exploration of what he calls the "science" of muddling through, suggests that "incrementalism ... [or] political change by small steps" (p. 517) is the key to effective policy. The crux of his argument is that "no person, committee, or research team, even with all the resources of modern electronic computation, can [effectively] complete the analysis of a complex problem [like those before today’s policy makers]" (p. 518). Therefore, the range of possible decisions in almost any worthy policy area is too broad to be addressed by sweeping policy changes. He postulates, then, that effective policy consists of "a fast-moving sequence of small changes [which] can more speedily accomplish a drastic alteration of the status quo than can an only infrequent major policy change" (p. 520).

Another aspect of effective policy is the type of directive contemplated and its potential effect on the organization. Montjoy and O’Toole (1979) identify four types of policy directives. There are policies which are (a) vague, but provide clear financial support; (b) specific, and provide clear financial support; (c) vague, but provide no clear financial support; and (d) specific, but provide no clear financial support (p.466). They suggest that most policy implementation problems are due to "intra-organizational" conflicts. Therefore, effective policies "... avoid intra-organizational implementation problems ... [by] establish[ing] a specific mandate and provid[ing] sufficient resources (type b)" (p. 473).

Renihan and Renihan (1993) suggest that effective policies are coherent, relevant and flexible, contextual and practical, as well as pragmatic. Weimer (1992) defines effective policy as "the potential to achieve substantive goals and good prospects for adoption and successful implementation" (p. 370). deLeon (1992), on the other hand, observes that "policy design calls for a clear vision and statement of policy purpose ... [thus policy] must explicitly incorporate diversity and dynamics into its model ... recognizing the immensely complex, uncertain and changing environment" (pp. 400-401) in which it exists.

A policy may be considered effective, therefore, if it successfully effects a change in target-group behaviour with a minimum of resistance. Further, it must be specific enough to clearly delineate expected behaviour without being so rigid that it does not allow local implementation flexibility. It must make sense within the context of other policies that are in effect, and it must be practical in terms of implementability. Finally, it must be appropriate, for "...it scarcely matters what size hammer one has when one is faced with a screw or, as in so many cases, one even lacks the proverbial nail" (Kaplan in deLeon, 1992, p. 320).
 

Models of Policy Making

The above discussion of policy definitions illustrates the diverse and somewhat controversial nature of policy. "It is crucial to realize that the term policy does not denote a single concept" (Guba in Guba, 1985, p. 11). Just as it seems difficult to define policy, it is also difficult to determine exactly what we can know about policy. Perhaps deLeon (1992) proposes the most clear and concise description of policy in this context. He states, "policy design represents more than just a product or a new policy. It is a continuous process of both information and action..." (p. 400).

Dibski (1993), in his paper on policy analysis, identifies three basic problems associated with developing a clearly-stated articulation of policy-making. They are: "(1) the subject as a field of study is broad in scope, complex, and relatively undeveloped theoretically, (2) the terminology and definitions are varied and therefore confusing, and (3) the journal literature on the subject deals mainly with substance not process" (p. 1). These weaknesses become apparent immediately as one surveys the literature in the area. For example, terms such as policy-making, policy-development, policy-analysis, and others seem to be used synonymously throughout the journals and textbooks written in the discipline. There are, however, some patterns or models of policy-

making that do seem to recur in various forms. While there are 8 distinct models of policy making, in the interests of brevity, the two most common models, identified here as the stages heuristic and the domains models, are discussed briefly below. Those who wish to examine the balance of the models are urged to consult the complete thesis document which is available from the University of Saskatchewan, the author, or the SSTA.

Stages Heuristic Model

The "stages heuristic" model (Sabatier in Dibski, 1993, p. 3) is based upon the observation that policy development often progresses through steps or stages which "...evolve over time in a generally sequential and cyclical manner" (Dibski, 1993, p. 3). While it is true that the number of stages identified by writers varies, "authors who use a stages heuristic to write about policy analysis commonly include five stages in their models" (Dibski, 1993, p. 3). The model developed by Sergiovanni and his colleagues (1987), in which they identify the five stages of policy development as dissatisfaction with existing policy, policy formation, policy enactment, policy implementation, and policy evaluation (pp. 187-189), may be used to illustrate a typical five-stage model. However, a close examination of stages heuristic paradigms reveals that policy-making decisions actually involve five separate decisions at plateaus following each stage and that they are part of a cyclical rather than linear process (see fig. 1). Each stage requires that a decision be made before one can progress to the next stage.

Domains Model

Guba (1985) suggests that the term policy has meaning at three levels which he identified as "...policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-experience" (p. 11). He posits that the levels of policy imply the domains or areas of administrative responsibility in which any policy exists. However, since "it is crucial to realize that the term policy does not denote a single concept" (Guba in Guba, 1985, p. 11), any individuals who make policy decisions, which Guba suggests exist in these domains simultaneously, must consider and evaluate them simultaneously.

Policy-in-intention. Policy-in-intention is "... the domain of policy framers or legislators..." (Guba, 1985, p. 11). It refers to the work done by those whose responsibility it is to develop and put forth policies as well as the actions that those policies are designed or intended to address. Thus "... policy-makers at any point in time work within a framework ...[which] defines a set of problems considered to be important, a set of acceptable solutions or policy responses, [and] a set of procedures and rules by which they will be considered" (Simeon, 1976, p. 555). A useful analogy for this level of policy would be the level of school board policy development.

Policy-in-implementation. Policy-in-implementation is "... the domain of policy implementers, the agents who carry out the particular programs or treatments undertaken in the name of policy..." (Guba, 1985, p. 11). It speaks to that level of an administrative hierarchy that is charged with the responsibility of implementing or carrying out those policy decisions made by "intenders" or legislators of policies. "The fulfillment of formal policies ... requires that someone do something [or stop doing something] and that the action have the desired effect" (Montjoy & O'Toole, 1979, p. 465).

If one extends the earlier analogy further, he or she can visualize a local school board as the intenders of policy and the upper and middle administration levels (superintendents and principals) as the policy implementers. Thus decisions made by the school board require further decisions to be made at the administrative level.

Policy-in-experience. Policy-in-experience is "... the domain of putative policy ‘beneficiaries’ and unintended ‘victims’" (Guba, 1985, p. 11). It refers to the effects of policy decisions upon those that the policy is intended to affect. It must be acknowledged here that while policy decisions are usually intended to achieve certain objectives of behaviour or compliance among certain individuals, they can also have unintended effects at levels of an organization that may have been unforeseen at the policy intention stage. Further, it refers to the experience of those persons as the implementers carry out those policy decisions made by the intenders or policy developers. Thus, the complete analogy for this conceptual framework for policy implementation is completed by adding the teachers in a school system as the experiencers of policy.

Whatever model for policy making a school division chooses to utilize, effective policies are ones which effect target-group behavioural change with a minimum of resistance. School divisions must keep in mind that not only do policies have to reflect their intentions but also, they must be practical in terms of being implemented. In addition, it is important to examine the target-group’s experience of the policy in order to ensure that the policy is having the intended effect and is being implemented as intended.

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PART II
The Nature of Supervisory Practices and Policies

While it is true that there is little agreement among scholars active in instructional supervision, it is generally accepted that supervision is essential for the improvement of instruction in a school. As Jonasson (1993) suggests, "if we wish to promote student learning in schools, we must invest time, money and energies into the training and development of teachers [by instituting a supervision program which utilizes a process] by which teachers and principals work together for mutual professional development"(pp. 19-20). Glickman (1990) points out that supervision can "... enhance teacher belief in a cause beyond oneself ... promote teachers’ sense of efficacy ... make teachers aware of how they complement each other in striving for common goals ... stimulate teachers to plan common purpose and actions ... [and] challenge teachers to think abstractly about their work" (p. 22). Thus, "[supervision] is the 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, p. 45). A vehicle for achieving that harmonious atmosphere of mutual cooperation and instructional improvement may be the development of an effective instructional supervision policy.

Supervision, as stated earlier, has as its prime objective the improvement of instruction. Those who effectively supervise teachers hope to accomplish this goal by working together with the teachers being supervised to identify areas of professional growth opportunities and assisting the implementation of those opportunities by tailoring in-services to address them and providing support for the use of them. Evaluation, on the other hand, has the objective of assessing or judging a teacher’s competence according to a criteria which is usually defined as "effective teaching practice".

Effective supervisory policies, then, are ones which allow the objectives of both supervision and evaluation to be achieved in a manner that reflects the characteristics of effective policies. In other words, an effective supervisory policy is one that addresses the goals of supervision and evaluation and achieves a maximum congruence among policy-in-intention, policy-in implementation, and policy-in-experience. Several key writers seem to agree with this descriptions of effective supervisory (evaluative) policies. However, Sawa (1994), in his comprehensive critical analysis of effective supervisory policies, proposes seventeen criteria of effective supervisory policies which he categorized into four main headings: technical effectiveness, teacher improvement, accountability, and teacher rights. He identifies characteristics which are common among most authors’ works; however, he identifies some additional characteristics which tend to be overlooked in much of the literature such as assistance for marginal teachers, a statement of teacher standards, and a process for grievance which seem to be essential for a supervisory policy to be effective (see fig. 2). While it is relatively unrealistic for a school division to develop a policy which addresses each of the criteria, it is essential to realize that the criteria do exist and to strive for the inclusion of as many of the items as possible. In that manner, the prudent school board will maximize the likelihood of effective supervision as intended.

In summary, most authors seem to agree that there are some characteristics which are essential to a successful and effective supervisory policy. "Well-designed policies ... can establish the structures and processes needed as a foundation for building successful teacher evaluation systems" (Burger & Baubarger, 1991, p. 3). Thus, "when purposes are unclear ... assessment often takes on the appearance of ‘snoopervision’ ... [and] this can be fatal to administrator or faculty morale" (Sportsman, 1986, p. 9). Therefore, effective supervisory policies must be clear, concise, flexible but firm, practical, logical, contextual, indicate financial and leadership support and be incremental in order to gain target-group acceptance and behavioural change.

 

Current and Emerging Models of Supervisory Practice

A survey of today’s supervisory practices reveals a wealth of information. There seems to be almost as many approaches to teacher supervision as there are school divisions. There is, however, a pattern that emerges from a close examination of the policies and models currently in use. The models can be classified into three basic categories: the traditional or clinical approach, the peer-driven approach, and the self-assessment approach. The following is a brief survey of the three categories which highlights the main tenets of each approach. Due to the sheer numbers of perspectives, this survey is not meant to be exhaustive but merely illustrative of the basic approaches of each type of model.

 

Figure 2
Policy Assessment Categorization Instrument

Technical Effectiveness

Teacher Improvement Accountability Teacher rights Traditional or Clinical Supervision

Originally conceived of and developed by Goldhammer and Cogan in the early 1970’s, clinical supervision stresses a cycle by which teachers and supervisors work collaboratively to continually and constructively improve instruction. While their original process consisted of eight phases, Acheson and Gall, refined the process by including only three basic processes for clinical supervision of teachers: the planning or pre-conference, the observation and the feedback conference (1987).

While there are a variety of clinical supervision models, they tend to stress the same basic tenets. First, the clinical aspect of supervision refers to the "clinic of the classroom" (Goldhammer, 1980, p. 23) and in that way, just as a doctor is a direct part of the medical processes in a clinic, the supervisor is "... a part of the ongoing activity, and as a result the supervisor carries away a more accurate and complete understanding of what occurred" (Goldhammer, 1980, p. 23). Second, they emphasize the importance of "... direct teacher-supervisor interaction ..." (Miller & Miller, 1987, p. 19) in the supervisory process as being the method for true and accurate assessment and understanding of the behaviours of the teacher in the classroom. Third, they recognize that supervision, to be worthwhile, must emphasize and lead to the teacher’s professional growth. Next, all of the models of clinical supervision recognize the importance of the feedback or post-conference as a method for assisting the teacher to develop new or enhanced teaching strategies. Finally, all of the models attempt to compare actual observed teacher behaviours to some notion of effective teaching.

Boritch (1988), for example, identifies five key behaviours of effective teachers which are "... clarity, variety, task orientation, engagement in the learning process and moderate-to-high rates of success" (p. 8). A clinical supervisor, in observing a teacher, would collect the data then compare and analyse the actual behaviours displayed by the teacher to these five characteristics of effective teaching and the entire supervisory cycle would be geared towards improving performance in those areas through observation and in service. While there are other definitions of effective teaching, this example is illustrative of the basic processes involved.

Peer Supervision

Peer supervision often takes the form of clinical supervision but, the process is lead by another teacher instead of by an administrator or professional supervisor. The theory is that the teacher being supervised will feel less threatened with being observed by a peer and the process will, therefore, be more productive in terms of changing and improving classroom behaviour.

"Horizontal [peer] evaluation is a process in which participant teachers start out by collaborating to analyse the relationship between their teaching intentions and their practices, in ways that point to contradictions" (Gitlin & Smyth, 1990, pp. 27-28). Whether or not there are contradictions, the practices are collaboratively analysed and the alternatives are explored to ensure the practices and results match.

Self- Assessment

Self-assessment is fairly self explanatory. It requires the teacher to examine his or her own teaching practices. One of the more common approaches to teacher self-evaluation involves portfolio development.

While this approach is usually used in conjunction with more traditional observation methods, it requires teachers to attend a series of in-services on portfolio construction and to include a variety of items pertinent to teaching and professional growth.

 
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Part III
THE INTERACTION OF POLICY AND SUPERVISION:
A LOOK AT EDUCATORS’ PERCEPTIONS

As outlined in the previous sections, policy is a statement enacted by a governing body that communicates value statements which are intended to give acceptable choices for decision making especially in problem or controversial areas. Supervision is observation of a teacher’s classroom practice for the purpose of professional growth and improvement of instruction. A recent study was conducted (Tunison, 1997) in order to explore and compare the perceptions of key players in the supervision of teachers. The focus of this study centered upon the agreement among the three domains of policy described by Guba as policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-experience (1985). In other words, do the intentions of policy makers (senior administrators and school trustees) translate into policies which are implemented (by principals) and experienced (by teachers) as intended?

The following sections outline the study and discuss the implications which arise from the findings. In order to place the research in context, there is a short statement describing the school system studied. Next, there are short descriptions of the perceptions of the respondents in each of the policy domains. Finally, the interactions among the domains are described and analysed concluding with suggestions for achieving improved correlation among the intentions, implementation, and experience of policy.

 

The Format of the Study

Data collection and analysis for this thesis (study) focussed upon teachers, principals, and superintendents. Guba (in Guba, 1986) points out, "if the policy is the impact of policy-making and policy-implementing system as it is experienced by the client, the chief policy analysis products are client of target group constructional [positive and negative] of what the policy is doing in their lives" (p. 560). Therefore, teachers, the target group of instructional supervisory policy, were the logical source for data. However, in an effort to truly describe instructional supervision in this context, the researcher first explored policy-in-intention by gathering data from superintendents. Then, he sought to explore policy-in-implementation by gathering data from principals. Thus, the study was conducted in three phases: a series of in-depth personal interviews with superintendents of education in this school division to establish and clarify the intentions of the supervisory policy, a series of in-depth personal interviews with school principals to describe the process of implementation of the instructional supervision policy, and a series of in-depth personal interviews with individual teachers (both tenured and non-tenured) to probe their experience of the supervisory policy in their school division.

The Respondents and Their Contexts

The system, referred to as Prairie Lily School Division, was a large urban system with 15,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. There were approximately forty schools in the system ranging in focus according to grade level (Elementary - Kindergarten (K) to Grade 8, and High School - Grades 9 to 12), student population and demographics (alternate schools), and program (fine arts and language immersion). At the time of study, Prairie Lily School Division employed 825 teachers (765 full time equivalents) and approximately 400 support staff, and was divided into three geographical areas with a superintendent responsible for the personnel and operations in each area. Figure 3 categorizes the respondents according to their school, their position within the school system, their career stage, and their school reference. Further, it should be noted that School A was an elementary school, School B was an alternate school, and School C was a high school.

Phase I

The data from phase I were analysed and categorized according to the following themes which emerged from the superintendents’ responses: policy making procedures used by their school system, the procedures used to develop the current instructional supervisory policy, their views on policy in general, their perceptions of the purpose of instructional supervision, the individuals responsible for supervision, the supervision of tenured and non-tenured teachers, training provided for both supervisors and supervisees, the level of priority of instructional supervision in the schools, the perceived outcomes of instructional supervision, and their view of an ideal supervision procedure.

Figure 3
Coding Contexts and Demographics
 
  

School 

  

Respondent

Coding Reference Career  

Stage

School  

Reference

School A
Superintendent
SA
30th Year
Responsible for School A
    
Principal
PA
25th Year
Principal of School A
    
Non-Tenured Teacher
TA1
First Year
School A Staff Member
    
Tenured Teacher
TA2
7th Year
School A Staff Member
School B
Superintendent
SB
27th Year
Responsible for School B
    
Principal
PB
22nd Year 
Principal of School B
    
Non-Tenured Teacher
TB1
2nd Year
School B Staff Member
    
Tenured Teacher
TB2
13th Year
School B Staff Member
    
Tenured Teacher
TB3
17th Year
School B Staff Member
School C
Superintendent
SC
29th Year
Responsible for School C
    
Principal
PC
27th Year
Principal of School C
    
Non-Tenured Teacher
TC1
First Year
School C Staff Member
    
Tenured Teacher
TC2
11th Year
School C Staff Member
    
Tenured Teacher
TC3
30th Year
School C Staff Member
 

An overview of the superintendents’ perceptions regarding the above categories is provided in Figure 4.

The superintendents identified ten basic intentions which could be divided into two categories: intended procedures and intended outcomes. The items are discussed under these headings in the following sections.

Intended Procedures

All three superintendents prefaced their descriptions of the intended supervisory procedures with the statement that they viewed instructional supervision as being a high priority. They indicated that they expected the principals to consider supervision a high priority and they also seemed to believe that the principals did indeed make supervision a high priority in their schools.

All three superintendents emphatically identified the principals as the intended supervisors of teachers which was consistent with the policy directive. They also stated that, while the principal may choose to delegate his of her responsibility to conduct supervision to other people, he or she was still ultimately responsible to ensure that it was conducted as intended.

SA suggested that there had been a deliberate attempt in the development of the policy to separate the processes of supervision and evaluation. He stated, however, that he viewed them as being inextricably intertwined. The superintendents indicated that the policy required principals to conduct administrative monitoring plus allow teachers to choose from three additional options: collegial (peer), clinical, and self-directed development. In addition, they indicated that they expected principals to use a closer form of supervision with non-tenured teachers than with tenured teachers.

Intended Outcomes

All three superintendents expressed the opinion that the purpose of the instructional supervision policy and, therefore, of supervision itself was to improve instruction and learning and to develop staff. With respect to the achievement of improved instruction, the superintendents seemed to believe that current practice was sufficient to address that objective. Further, they believed that improved learning of students was an automatic result of improved instructional practice.

Figure 4
Overview of Superintendent Perceptions
 
Superintendent Perceptions of: SA SB SC
  
Policy Making Procedures Used By School Board
-initiative typically from director or superintendents
-continuous state of revision
-literature review completed
-put into policy
Development of Current Supervisory Policy
-principals were mandated to discuss policy with their staffs
-development similar to that described above
-large committee worked on development
Policies in General
-guidelines to help the organization to keep on track
-help organization to strive for excellence
-provide plan for action
Purpose of Instructional Supervision
-improve learning of students
-self-actualization
-improve instruction and develop staff
-improve instruction
Individual Responsible for Supervision
-principals
-principals
-peer coaching
-mentorships
-principals
-vice principals
Supervision of Tenured vs. Non-tenured Teachers
-more supervision of non-tenured teachers
-more directive with non-tenured teachers
- principals to use closer form of supervision with non-tenured teachers
Training for Supervisees
-did some in the past but has fallen off
-no training provided
-no training provided
Training for Supervisors
-did some in the past
-is useful
-no training necessary
-no training necessary
Level of Priority of Supervision
-high
-high 
-high
Outcomes of Supervision
-self-actualizing
-collegiality
-relevant staff development
-improved instruction
-relevant staff development
-collegiality
-improved teaching
-more informed teachers
Ideal Program
-address academics
-collaboration
-broad teacher services
-differentiated
-formal training for supervisors
-collaboration
The intention of a more developed staff was addressed by the superintendents in a very broad context. They believed that requiring or suggesting that teachers attend conferences and professional development courses out of the context of the supervisory process as well as within the context of supervision produced a more developed staff and necessarily led to improved instruction.

However, the superintendents indicated that a major intention of the supervisory process was to provide relevant in-service and development for the teachers in the system by developing close links between supervision and the staff development activities that took place in the schools. They had indicated that due to the growth in the system, that principals had been given a great deal of autonomy with respect to the operation of their schools. Therefore, the superintendents expected each principal to develop a staff development plan which had strong ties to the supervisory activities in his or her school.

Finally, the superintendents stated that it was intended to allow the principals to work closely with the teachers for growth rather than on annual performance appraisals. It was believed that this process would lead to teacher self-actualization and encourage teachers to complete their tasks with a high level of morale and dedication.

Summary of superintendent perceptions (policy-in-intention)

Policy-in-intention of the instructional supervision policy was that the principals should make supervision a high priority in which they or others supervised teachers in a variety of ways. Further, they believed that improved learning of students was an automatic result of improved instructional practice.

The intention of a more developed staff was addressed by the superintendents in a very broad context. They believed that requiring or suggesting that teachers attend conferences and professional development courses out of the context of the supervisory process as well as within the context of supervision produced a more developed staff and necessarily led to improved instruction.

However, the superintendents indicated that a major intention of the supervisory process was to provide relevant in-service and development for the teachers in the system by developing close links between supervision and the staff development activities that took place in the schools. They had indicated that due to the growth in the system, that principals had been given a great deal of autonomy with respect to

the operation of their schools. Therefore, the superintendents seemed to expect each principal to develop a staff development plan which had strong ties to the supervisory activities in his or her school. Finally, the superintendents stated that it was intended to allow the principals to work closely with the teachers for growth rather than on annual performance appraisals. It was believed that this process would lead to teacher self-actualization and encourage teachers to complete their tasks with a high level of morale and dedication.

Summary of superintendent perceptions (policy-in-intention)

Policy-in-intention of the instructional supervision policy was that the principals should make supervision a high priority in which they or others supervised teachers in a variety of ways especially differentiating between tenured and non-tenured for the improvement of instruction and the development of staff. The links between supervision and staff development were intended to be strong in order to provide relevant in-service and help teachers to a self-actualized state in which they performed their duties with a high level of morale and dedication.

Phase II

The data were analysed and categorized according to the following themes which emerged from the principals’ responses: principal perceptions of the supervisory policy, the intent of instructional supervision, the actual practice of supervision in their schools, the link between supervision and in-service in their schools, the training required for both supervisors and supervisees, the outcomes from supervision, and the ideal supervision program. There also seemed to be some differences between the implementation procedures between the high school and the elementary and alternate schools, therefore, the principals’ perceptions are presented separately and are synthesized in a summary at the end. In addition, an overview of the principals’ perceptions is provided in Figure 5.

Both principals began by identifying themselves as being responsible for instructional supervision in their schools. Both principals also stated that they involved their vice-principals in the supervisory process to an extent and that they viewed supervision as a high priority in their schools.

It seemed that, from the principals’ points of view, supervision in both of their schools took the form of daily supervision in which they practiced SBWA (supervision by walking around). Both principals

Figure 5
Overview of Principal Perceptions
 
 

Principal Perceptions of:

PA PB PC
Supervisory Policy
-uses personal growth plans
-not sure of policy
-supervision is threatening
-practice outdated
-not enough distinction between supervision and evaluation
Intent of Supervision
-help teachers
-improve instruction
-help teacher-improve instruction
-help teachers
-improve instruction
Actual Supervisory Practice in School
-informal
-SBWA
-every day
-informal
-SBWA
-every day
-informal
-SBWA
-vice principal involved
Link between Supervision and In-service
-weak link
-weak link
-weak link
Training Required for Supervisors
-desirable but not essential
-no training required
-mandatory training required
Training Required for Supervisees
-desirable but not essential
-no training required
-mandatory training required
Outcomes from Supervision
-reflective staff
-life-long learning
-socialization of new teachers
-relevant in-service
-reflective staff
-happier students
-higher success rates
Ideal Supervisory Program
-present practice 
-teacher portfolios
-present practice 
-formal approach
-more time for supervision tasks
stated that they tried to get around to every classroom every day and that they believed that they were most effective as supervisors when they were visible in the hallways and classrooms of their schools.

Various options for teacher supervision were referred to by the principals including formal in-class supervision (clinical), collegial (peer), and supervision by a superintendent. They indicated that they believed that collegial supervision was the method of choice for most teachers and while, as they pointed out, teachers could request the other forms of supervision, they left the impression that it rarely, if ever, actually happened. Both principals stated that they perceived no significant difference between the supervisory procedures that they used for tenured and non-tenured teachers. Finally, they both believed that there was a link, albeit a weak one, between their supervisory and staff development programs.

The high school principal

The high school principal, PC, seemed to concur with the other principals with respect to identifying himself as the person responsible for supervision, using SBWA as his primary supervisory technique, involving the assistant principals in the supervisory task, perceiving supervision as a high priority, and seeing a weak link between the supervisory process and the staff development activities in his school. He did, however, display several major differences of opinion from the other principals in his perceptions as well.

First, he said that he had made a commitment to formally supervise each teacher in his school each year. While he acknowledged that he had not fully achieved his goal, he stated that he had supervised the teachers in three of the six departments in his school. He said that he involved his assistant principals in supervision in a more formal way by assigning them responsibility for specific departments and expecting them to work closely with teachers with respect to curricular and student-related issues. In addition, he stated that he tended to be more directive with non-tenured teachers and to provide a closer form of supervision for them. Finally, he stated that regular formal supervision, while desirable, was virtually impossible due to the fact that a high school principal’s administrative workload was extremely heavy.

Summary of principal perceptions (policy-in-implementation)

While policy-in-implementation of the instructional supervision policy was somewhat different in the three schools, there were basic similarities among the three schools. The principals used an informal method of SBWA which they believed gave them a good idea about what was taking place in their schools and which they believed provided the basis for an in-service program. All principals cited various options, including clinical and collegial supervision, which they believed could be used in their schools. They viewed their supervisory role as being an aide or helper to teachers and, therefore, two of them, PA and PB, saw no difference in their supervisory practices with respect to tenured and non-tenured teachers.

Phase III

The data were analysed and categorized according to the following themes which emerged from the teachers’ responses: Their experience of being supervised, the difference between the supervision of tenured and non-tenured teachers, training required for both supervisors and supervisees, the link between supervision and in-service, the priority of supervision in their school, and the ideal supervision program. While there were some differences in the perceptions of teachers from school to school, the following statements represent a composite of a majority of teacher perceptions. An overview of the teachers’ responses is provided in Figure 6.

All teachers identified the principal in their schools as their primary instructional supervisor. Other individuals also seemed to be perceived by the teachers as having responsibility for supervision including assistant and vice-principals, department heads, and other teachers. However, they added, very little supervision by these people actually took place.

All teachers seemed to perceive that instructional supervision was not a high priority among the administrators in their schools. Most teachers stated that they were rarely supervised; in fact, six of the eight teachers said that they could not remember when they had been supervised last or, for that matter, whether they had been supervised at all.

All teachers indicated that they had not recently been given the opportunity for in-service with regard to benefitting from supervision. However, some did say that they had received what they perceived as ill-prepared in-service in peer supervision in the past which had not been followed up in any meaningful way. All teachers also indicated that they would welcome the opportunity for in-service in the area of peer and other forms of supervision under the condition that it be offered by knowledgeable presenters and made relevant by follow-up with in-school practice.

A majority of teachers (5 of 8) perceived no link between instructional supervision and the in-service activities in their schools. The same majority perceived no difference between the supervision given to tenured and non-tenured teachers; although, all teachers except one believed that there should be a difference which was a perception which was consistent with the superintendents’ perceptions. Finally, virtually every teacher indicated that he or she would welcome more supervision as an aid to help them improve their practice, feel good about themselves, and give direction to their professional development.

 

Figure 6
Overview of Teacher Perceptions
 
Teacher Perceptions of: TA1 TA2 TB1 TB2 TB3 TC1 TC2 TC3
Experience of Supervision
-weekly supervision by principal
-little or no supervision by anyone
-daily supervision by principal
--no supervision by anyone
-no supervision by anyone
-occasional supervision by department head
-no supervision by anyone
-no supervision by anyone
Tenured and Non-tenured supervision
-no difference
-should not be different
-no difference
-should be a difference
-no difference
-should not be different
-no difference
-should not be different
-no difference
-should be a difference
-no difference
-should not be different
-is a difference
-should be a difference
-is a difference
-should be a difference
Training for Supervisors
-necessary
-not necessary
-not necessary
-necessary
-necessary
-not necessary
-necessary
-not necessary
Training for Supervisees
-would help for relevance
-helps but must be followed through
-not necessary
-good idea
-good idea
-would help for relevance
-helps but must be followed through
-helps but must be followed through
Link Between Supervision and In-service
-weak link
-weak link
-weak link
-no link
-no link
-no link
-no link
-no link
Priority of Supervision in School
-high priority
-low priority
-low priority
-low priority
-low priority
low priority
-low priority
-low priority
Ideal 
Supervision
Program
-school based
-collegial
-peer supervision with partner at same career level 
-present practice okay
-formal and informal practices combined
-broad based with input from other jurisdictions
-more formal supervision to give direction
-formal but account for career stage
-more formal; principal would have more time
Summary of phase III perceptions

A description of the policy-in-experience among the three schools revealed a system in which teachers perceived supervision to be a low priority task that resulted in rare or non-existent supervision. They perceived little difference between supervision of tenured and non-tenured teachers and saw few links between supervision and school in-service. They welcomed the opportunity to take training with respect to supervision and requested more supervision.
 

 CONGRUENCE AMONG POLICY DOMAINS

An examination of Phases I, II, and III responses revealed few congruencies (see Figure 7 for summary of perspectives). There were in fact only three items which seemed to be congruent among the three domains of policy. The superintendents, principals, and teachers unanimously identified the principals as the primary supervisors in the schools of Prairie Lily School Division. In addition, there was also unanimous identification of assistant and vice-principals as occasional supervisors. Finally, the purpose of instructional supervision was universally identified as the improvement of instruction.

Policy-in-intention and policy-in-implementation perspectives were congruent with respect to the belief that supervision was a high priority in schools. However, teachers’ perceptions of the experience of supervision suggested that it was not a high priority in actual practice in their schools.

The policy-in-intention with respect to recommended techniques for supervision identified administrative monitoring as the basis for supervision with collegial, peer, clinical, and self-directed supervision as options to be chosen by teachers for supervision of their work. Principals implemented administrative monitoring by conducting SBWA and mentioned options such as collegial, peer, and clinical supervision which they said could be chosen by teachers. Teachers experienced little or no supervision. They were not aware of or, at least, did not mention options with respect to supervisory technique choices.

Superintendents identified an intention that principals should make a strong link between supervision and staff development activities in the schools. Principals indicated that in their implementation of instructional supervision, there were weak links between supervision and staff development activities. Teacher perceptions of the experience of staff development activities seemed to suggest that there were few if any links in this regard.

Finally, superintendents unanimously identified the intention that principals should provide a closer, more directive form of supervision of non-tenured teachers as compared to tenured teachers. Two of the three principals stated that they did not differentiate between tenured and non-tenured teachers with respect to instructional supervision. Most teachers stated that their experience suggested that there was no differentiation between non-tenured and tenured teachers with respect to instructional supervision.

In summary, there seemed to be little congruence among policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-implementation with respect to instructional supervision. It appeared that policy-in-implementation may have been the obstacle to intended policy experience however, there were difficulties at other levels as well. A

Figure 7
A Comparison of Respondent Perceptions
 
Perception Categories Policy-in-intention Policy-in-implementation Policy-in-experience
Level of Priority
High
High
Low
Individual Responsible for Supervision
Principals, but could delegate
Principals
Assistant/Vice-Principals
Principals, Assistant/Vice-Principals
Department Heads
Techniques Used for Supervision
Administrative monitoring
Collegial
Clinical
Self-directed
Informal SBWA
Options include:
- collegial
- peer
- clinical
Little or no supervision
Not aware of options
Supervision of Tenured versus Non-Tenured Teachers
Difference expected
Closer supervision of non-tenured teachers
No difference in schools A and B
Difference in school C
No difference
Purpose of Supervision
Improve instruction
Develop staff
Improve instruction
Support teachers
Improve instruction but not done
Link between Supervision and In-service Activities
Strong
Weak
None
 

sound theoretical base, unambiguous policy directives, well-trained leaders, active support from the governing body, and an indication of high priority. An examination of the policy itself along with the descriptions of policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-experience revealed several problem areas.

The superintendents described the extensive literature review process that took place during the development of the current instructional supervision policy. One must assume from that description, that the policy had a sound theoretical base. Sabatier and Mazmanian (1979) suggested that it was crucial for a policy making body to develop a strong theoretical connection between the changes in the target-group’s behaviour and the objectives of the policy itself. One may argue that the connection should be explicit in the text of the policy to ensure maximum acceptance of the policy and of target-group compliance. However, Prairie Lily’s instructional supervision policy did not include the background information: SA pointed out that "... the policy doesn’t do it [the background work] justice ...". As stated earlier, the policy could be viewed as being an ambiguous policy directive because it mentioned required supervisory techniques without describing methods to conduct them. In addition, it omitted clearly intended principal behaviours such as the provision of close supervision of non-tenured teachers. Montjoy and O’Toole (1979) suggested that "... a vague mandate gives the dominant coalition [those who resist change] an opportunity to focus those activities [behavioural changes] in accordance with its own goals and/or world view" (p. 468). The intended behaviours with respect to instructional supervision may not have taken place because the policy and the behaviour of the superintendents did not specifically require principals to conduct supervision in any clear-cut manner.

The superintendents and two of the principals indicated that they believed that mandatory training of supervisors was unnecessary. However, Sabatier and Mazmanian (1979) suggested that well-trained leaders were essential to effective implementation of policies because "... policy support is essentially useless if not accompanied by political and managerial skill in utilizing available resources" (p. 465). One must question the belief that training was not necessary in view of the fact that only one of the respondent principals had received formal training and he was the only one attempting to conduct supervision beyond SBWA.

As reviewed earlier, the policy did not contain any indication of active support, financial or otherwise, for instructional supervision from the school board. However, Sabatier and Mazmanian (1979) suggested that active support was "... absolutely crucial to maintain active ... support for the achievement of statutory objectives over the long course of implementation ... [which] essentially requires ... requisite financial resources ..." (p. 496). The superintendents described attempts to implement the policy which, for example, included release time from the classroom for teachers to conduct peer supervision. However, they noted that funding for that initiative had gradually dried up and, they noted, so had the peer supervision activities. The fact that the policy itself did not include a statement of financial support, allowed superintendents and principals to find other priorities for the initial implementation funding for supervision and that essentially ended the supervisory activities as well.

Finally, it seemed logical that if a governing body wished a particular policy initiative to be viewed as a high priority, it must indicate that it was, in fact, a high priority either in the policy itself or in some other way. Sabatier and Mazmanian (1979) suggested that "...any particular policy decision is susceptible to an erosion of political support as other issues become relatively more important over time" (p. 499). All superintendents indicated that instructional supervision was a high priority in their school system. All principals seemed to concur. However, principals indicated that they felt that the administrative workload given them by the school board, especially at the high school level, was so heavy that they had difficulty finding adequate time to conduct regular supervision. The lack of formal indication of the importance of instructional supervision in the policy may have contributed to the lack of congruence among the intention, implementation, and experience levels of policy in this case. Therefore, one must consider (a) the impact of growth on the system which forced the de-centralization of administrative responsibilities from superintendents to principals, (b) the lack of formal training of both supervisors and supervisees, (c) the heavy workloads of both superintendents and principals, and (d) the vague policy directive, to be contributing factors in this lack of congruence among the policy domains.

Implications for Future Practice

In light of the lack of congruence among policy-in-intention, policy-in-implementation, and policy-in-experience one must conclude that various changes must be made to improve supervisory practice and to increase congruence. The following is a series of implications for possible changes which reflect both the perceptions of the respondents and the literature reviewed with respect to instructional supervision and policy making.

1. Revision of the instructional supervision policy to address the shortcomings noted in the comparison to Sawa’s policy categorization instrument and the policy-in-intention expressed by the superintendents. Such revisions should include (a) a clear statement of the Board’s perceptions regarding the purpose of supervision and its philosophy of supervision, (b) a clear statement of the high priority of instructional supervision indicated by the superintendents, (c) a clear statement of the Board’s financial support which corresponds to its priority of supervision statement, (d) the background information referred to by SA which supports the philosophy and purpose statements, (e) a clear statement which requires mandatory training for both supervisors and supervisees, (f) a description of the specific techniques recommended for supervision which reflects the training program, (g) a description of the intended links between supervision and staff development which includes some supplementary material to suggest how this could be done, (h) a statement of the superintendent intention that there be a difference between the supervision of tenured and non-tenured teachers, and (i) a revision to the instructional supervision program itself to reflect both the literature and the desires of the respondents as described in their statements of the ideal supervisory programs.

2. Amendment of policy making procedures to include either a formal component of the complete evaluative stage of the heuristic model or to acknowledge the roles of the implementers and experiencers of policy. This would require either (a) an increase in the number of superintendents responsible for personnel and operations or a restructuring of their responsibilities to ensure proper time to conduct more formal reviews of principal and teacher compliance with policy and a system of regular and formal checks by the superintendents to ensure principal compliance with policy or, (b) a radical change in the methods and, possibly, the personnel utilised for policy making.

3. Allocation of additional funds by the School Board to reflect the level of intended priority expressed by superintendents. Additional funds would be needed to (a) develop and implement training program for both supervisors and supervisees which reflects Board policy and intention, (b) create release time for principals and teachers to participate in training as well as supervision activities, and (c) hire additional personnel at superintendent, principal, and teacher levels to allow process to continue.

4. Development of a mandatory training program for supervisors which would reflect the practices, competencies, and attitudes described by supervision literature as being necessary for effective supervision such as (a) the purpose of supervision, (b) specific supervisory techniques (e.g. data collection, data analysis, etc), (c) appropriate links between supervision and staff development, (d) appropriate methods to develop those links, (e) practice with non-directive language, and (f) implementation of a directed professional reading program to help principals keep abreast of current and emerging practices.

5. Development of a mandatory training supervision program for teachers to include practices, competencies, and attitudes described by supervision literature as being necessary for effective supervisory practice such as (a) the purpose of instructional supervision, (b) the methods for peer coaching, (c) analysis of teaching practice to help identify areas of weakness in teachers’ own practices as well as to assist peer to improve, and (d) implementation of a professional reading program to help teachers keep abreast of current and emerging practices.

6. Restructuring and clarification of administrative positions in the schools in such a way to allow principals and vice-principals to conduct instructional supervision effectively. For example (a) hire budget managers for high schools to free the principals from that task, (b) view principals as instructional leaders rather than as budget and personnel managers, (c) either reduce required paper work or change its format to allow it to be done by vice-principals or secretaries, and (d) reduce the de-centralization in appropriate areas and reduce principal responsibilities overall.
 
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