Glen Dawursk, Jr. MAED, BSED
Successful instructional supervision regards each teacher as a diverse and distinct individual with varying needs and skill levels. An effective program will challenging their comfort zone, inspire them toward reflection and inquiry, encourage goal setting, and seek collaboration with others; all in order to promote personal improvement and organizational growth.
There are three distinct approaches to instructional supervision: directive, collaborative, and non-directive.†† A good supervisory program will favor differentiated supervision: basically, different approaches for different people and situations. While I generally prefer collaborative supervision, I know that there are times I may need to use the other two.†
In the directive approach, the principal accentuates a task for the individual teacher or staff.† The principal makes standards clear and shows teachers how they will achieve them. The directive principal uses plenty of data to back-up this systemic approach. This type of supervision implies that the principal is more knowledgeable when it comes to instruction and his/her decisions weigh more than the teacherís do.† As a principal, I would use this approach in decisions where I am confident, have expertise, and have been successful as a teacher.† This approach is effective when a decision does not have time for extensive collaboration or discussion.† I prefer to come with a limited number of choices and allow the faculty to choose from them. My decisions naturally lean toward logic, rational and factual information rather than impulse, emotion and hypothesis; therefore, this approach would allow the staff to choose from a few logical choices rather than meandering through a plethora of options.
In the collaborative approach, the principal seeks to indenture the teacher via a mutual agreement.† This approach allows the teacher and principal to negotiate a plan of action where neither sideís viewpoint is excluded. The end product is often a contract and both the principal and teacher share responsibility in its completion.† This approach is my preferred method of supervision as it allows me to express my opinion and participate in the problem solving but does not mandate my way as the only way.† It allows the teacher and principal to share the ownership of the plan and proposed solution.† This is especially helpful in areas were I am not an expert or have little or no experience. Through collaboration, the most informed individual expresses their knowledge but everyone participates in the decision making process.
The last approach is non-directive supervision. In this approach, the teacher creates their own plan. The premise is simple: the teacher has the capability to self-analyze, self-critique, and implement viable solutions on their own. This form of self-direction hinges upon the teacherís intrinsic desire for improvement and positive change and necessitates that the teacher sees the need for change. I would consider using this approach with veteran teachers who understand regulate themselves within our common instructional goals. The standard clinical approach to supervision could be supplemented with a reflective analysis whereas the teacher analyzes and interprets what the principal has observed. If a clinical approach is used, it is the teacher who determines the plan and solutions.