Chapter 3

 

SUPERVISION OF INSTRUCTION

 

Cheryl F. Fischer

 

Through the effective supervision of instruction, administrators can reinforce and enhance teaching practices that will contribute to improved student learning. By skillfully analyzing performance and appropriate data, administrators can provide meaningful feedback and direction to teachers that can have a profound effect on the learning that occurs in each classroom. Because student learning is the primary function of the schools, the effective supervision of instruction is one of the most critical functions of the administrator. If schools are to provide equal access to quality educational programs for all students, administrators must hold teachers accountable for providing an appropriate and well-planned program. These programs include a variety of

teaching strategies designed to meet the diverse needs of all students in our complex society.

 

This chapter reviews areas of focus for teacher evaluation, the components of effective teaching, some basic strategies and procedures for data gathering and conferencing, and steps administrators should consider in the effective preparation of conference memorandums and letters of reprimand. Approaches that are discussed which differ from existing procedures in the district should be used to stimulate discussion and prompt a review of current practices. This process may lead to a restructuring of practices and procedures that could result in the enhancement of student learning.

 

Teacher Evaluation

 

To enhance the professional effectiveness of the teaching staff administrators must be skilled in these areas: (a) what to evaluate, (b) how to observe and analyze classroom observation information and other data, and (c) how to translate the results of observations and the summary of data into meaningful conference feedback that guides and encourages teachers to improve instruction. Expectancies for teacher performance were enacted by California State Senate Bill 813 and are included in Section 44662 of the California Education Code. This section requires the governing board of each school district to establish standards of expected pupil achievement at each grade level in each area of study. Under this code, evaluation and assessment

of certificated employee competency are required in four areas. These include: (1) the progress of pupils toward the district-adopted standards, (2) the instructional strategies and techniques utilized by the teacher, (3) the teacher's adherence to curricular objectives, and (4) the establishment and maintenance of a suitable learning environment. Although this code section prohibits the evaluation and assessment of certificated employee competence by the use of published norms established by standardized tests, it does give the board of education of each district authority to adopt additional evaluation guidelines and criteria. In addition, the school board in each district is required to establish and define job responsibilities of other certificated

non-instructional personnel (supervision or administrative positions) whose responsibilities cannot be evaluated in the aforementioned four areas.

 

The ability to assess teacher competence in California in the four areas outlined in SB 813 is a critical factor in achieving educational excellence and a positive learning experience for all students. In the following sections, methods that can be used to assess the competency of teachers in each of the four areas will be addressed.

 

Assessing Pupil Progress

 

To assess student progress toward the established district standards and to facilitate the planning of various types of instruction, administration should ensure that teachers are utilizing information from a variety of valid and appropriate sources before they begin planning lessons or teaching. This could include data regarding students' backgrounds, academic levels, and interests, as well as other data from student records to ascertain academic needs and to facilitate planning appropriate initial learning. It is important for the administration to note that information regarding students and their families is used by the staff for professional purposes only and is kept confidential as a matter of professional ethics.

 

Administrators should determine if teachers are using the numerous formative and summative diagnostic processes available to assist in planning meaningful instruction. Formative measures include ongoing teacher monitoring of student progress during the lessons, practice sessions, and on daily assignments. Measures administered periodically like criterion-referenced tests, grade level examinations, or placement tests that are teacher-made or part of district-adopted material, also provide helpful information on the status of student learning as instruction progresses.

 

Summative measures like minimum competency examinations, district mastery tests, the California Assessment Program examinations, and standardized tests provide a different perspective from the ongoing formative measures. This type of data enables the teacher to evaluate the long-term retention rate of their students and to compare student learning on a regional, state, or national basis.

 

The administrators should verify that teachers are preparing and maintaining adequate and accurate records of student progress. This will include the regular and systematic recording of meaningful data regarding student progress on specific concepts and skills related to the standards for each subject for the grade level or course they are teaching. Once students' success levels have been identified from the records, the teacher should use the information to plan instruction and any necessary remediation and enrichment. By utilizing ongoing information on achievement, teachers can maintain consistent and challenging expectations for all students. Students and parents should be informed of the students' progress toward achieving district goals and

objectives through comments on individual work, progress reports, conferencing, report cards, and other measures. Students should be encouraged to participate in self-assessment as a way of motivating students to improve academic achievement.

 

Instructional Strategies

 

When a profession deals with people, cause-and-effect relationships are never identified as certainties, only as possibilities. Therefore, there are no certainties in teaching. It is a situational process requiring constant decision-making which, when properly implemented, increases the probability of learning. Research on teacher effectiveness has been intensified in the last two decades. The results have helped identify an instructional process that provides a solid and basic framework for planning instruction which is helpful in guiding the administrator in what to look for when visiting a classroom. These steps include planning, preparing, presenting the lesson, monitoring student progress, and conducting practice sessions.

 

Planning the Lesson

 

Formulating a well-defined objective of the lesson is a critical first step as it provides the direction and framework for the decisions which will follow. The objective should describe the specific content to be learned and the observable behavior the student will exhibit to demonstrate that learning has occurred. No matter how expertly the objectives are stated, objectives facilitate learning only if they are appropriate to the academic achievement of students. A well-written objective includes specific information on what is to be included in the lesson and what is not. This specifically expedites the next step, which is the identification of sub-skills or sub-objectives. A task analysis of each of the sub-objectives enables the teacher to sequence them in order of difficulty to provide a logical sequence to the lesson.

 

Preparing the Lesson

 

Administrators will know if the appropriate planning for instruction has taken place when the teacher is able to design a lesson that achieves the objective. This means everything the teacher and students do during the lesson is related to the objective. Birdwalking is a term coined by Madeline Hunter that refers to the inability of a teacher to focus on the objective of the lesson (Gentile, 1987). Instead, the teacher birdwalks, pecking at interesting ideas with what seems to be worthwhile or informative digressions, distracting the students' thinking processes and leaving the students confused about the topic of the lesson. Avoiding birdwalking does not mean there can never be spontaneity. The decision to adjust a lesson must be a conscious one where the advantage of postponing or interrupting the lesson is weighed against the disadvantage of interrupting the logic of the lesson (Gentile, 1987).

 

Presenting the Lesson

 

The beginning of each lesson provides the challenge of how to change the focus of students' attention from previous classes or discussions with friends to the objective of the lesson. The importance of eliciting appropriate associations prior to presenting a lesson can be found in research on positive transfer and advanced organizers (Ausubel, 1960; Bransford & Johnson, 1972; Emmer & Evertson, 1979).

 

Research indicates that the learning of facts is greatly facilitated when memories of organized principles and prerequisite concepts related to the lesson are reviewed at the beginning of the lesson. The focus portion, or anticipatory set as it is called by Madeline Hunter, requires the student overtly or covertly have the prerequisites in memory. The activity must be designed effectively to elicit information related to the lesson objective.

 

During the opening it is important for students to know the direction of the instruction, the relevance of what they are learning, and to have a sense of continuity. Students are often not able to see the relationship between today's work and the work from yesterday. Sharing the objective of the lesson informally with students would include teacher statements such as "what we are going to do today" and "the reason we are studying this  concept."

 

The body of the lesson includes the presentation of information; what Rosenshine (1986) would call the

explanation-demonstration stage of the lesson. To implement this phase of the lesson, administrators should note that teachers have a wide variety of different styles and models of teaching from which to choose. The larger the number of alternative teaching styles teachers are comfortable utilizing, the more likely they will select techniques that match the desired objectives, learning styles, and academic levels of their students. Publications that describe a wide variety of models of teaching include Joyce and Weil (1986) and Bellon, Bellon, and Handler (1977). Other authors have described specialized models like cooperative learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1975) and Ethna Reid's ERIC model. Current literature is in agreement that there is

no single right way of teaching or one approach that will be effective for all learning objectives. To determine if the best teaching strategy was selected administrators should determine if the teacher achieved the objective.

 

While well over a hundred instructional strategies have been identified, there are some attributes common to all strategies (Joyce & Weil, 1986). Classroom observers should be aware that each strategy has a set of activities with a distinct purpose and role for the teacher and students. Each strategy has a logical sequence which is necessary if students are to accomplish the objective of the lesson. Therefore, the selection of an instructional strategy is a complex task because there are numerous effective strategies that could be used, depending on the instructional goal. Joyce and Weil (1986) drew from a wide range of teaching studies to organize the methods of instruction into four major categories which they refer to as families of instruction.

Based upon research in education and psychology, the four families categorize strategies according to the intended learning outcomes.

 

The families include information processing, personal, social interaction, and behavioral. The information processing family promotes a discovery process of learning. Methods included in this family stress thinking  kills and the content and process of learning. There is no single right answer. Motivation comes from the natural curiosity of the students. Models in the information processing family are based upon the findings of Bruner, Piaget, Taba, Suchman, and others. Some examples of teaching styles that promote information processing are inquiry, concept attainment, and advanced organizers.

 

The personal family, derived from the work of Rogers, Perls, Gordon, and A.S. Neill, emphasizes individual student development and problem-solving techniques. In this model the teacher assists the students in developing interpersonal and cognitive skills and creativity. It enables the students to determine and evaluate their own learning. Some examples from this family include non-directive teaching, synectics, and the classroom meetings.

 

The work of Dewey, Thelen, Staffel, Glasser, and others is the basis for models in the social interaction family. The focus is on group problem-solving skills and the relationship of the individual to society or other people. Selecting a model of instruction from this family is appropriate when the goal of the lesson is to teach group process and academic skills. Examples include various forms of cooperative learning and role-playing.

 

The behavioral family emphasizes convergent thinking and a linear learning process where learning is broken down into small, sequenced behaviors with frequent rewards for correct responses. This family includes the work of Skinner, Bandura, Gagne, Walper, and others who share an emphasis on changing the behavior of the learner. It is an appropriate method of instruction when the objective of the lesson is to teach facts, concepts, or skills. Examples of teaching strategies included in this family are direct instruction and contingency management.

 

An ability to utilize several models in each of the four families enables teachers to review the needs of the students and the objectives of the lesson, and select the particular approach that is most likely to facilitate achievement of the learning objective. Classroom observers should understand that the four families provide a valuable source of information for staff development training sessions.

 

Monitoring Student Progress

 

It is clear that good teaching requires diagnosing student progress during the lesson and adjusting instruction accordingly (Good, 1983; Rosenshine & Stevens, 1986; Hunter, 1982). Periodic and formal assessments of student learning through a mid-term or final examination may be helpful in formulating grades, but are not frequent enough to enable the teacher to adjust the teaching to correct for misconceptions. When observing a lesson, administrators should note points in the lesson where teachers should monitor instruction as it  progresses to enable them to immediately respond to students' misunderstandings and insure that all students are learning the material. Checking for understanding can be done in large groups by having all of the students signal the response at the same time to the same question. This can be done with the use of their fingers to signal multiple choice answers 1, 2, or 3, the first letter of a word, or thumbs up or down to indicate true or false (Hunter, 1982). Other techniques for group signaling include the use of individual chalkboards, ceramic tiles, or laminated cards on which students record their responses with a grease pencil or crayon and flash the answer. A group choral response can also be used. Students' understanding can also be checked through the use of brief written responses, or mini-diagnostic tests. As students are completing the quick quiz the teacher walks around the room monitoring the approach the students are using to solve the problems as well as their answers, and determines if adjustment in teaching needs to be made. Another method would be a pair share where students take turns telling each other the answers to two different questions related to the same  objective while the teacher monitors. Although some measures may not indicate specifically which students are confused, they do provide the teacher with the information needed to determine if the direction or pace of the lesson needs to be adjusted.

 

Teachers who monitor progress as part of their teaching have all students perform some observable behavior congruent with the objective of the lesson while they check the behavior. They analyze the correctness and completeness of the responses and determine if it is necessary to reteach certain segments of the lesson before they move on. Once this is completed they proceed to the next concept--teaching, re-teaching if necessary, and providing the necessary practice.

 

Conducting Practice Sessions

 

Once students have an adequate level of understanding, research concludes that it is extremely important that students be given the opportunity to practice the new skill and its application (Russell & Hunter, 1977). In the initial phase, practice should be conducted under the direct supervision of the teacher. Hunter refers to the process as guided practice. The teacher moves about the room providing support, encouragement, praise, individual assistance, and re-teaching. It can be particularly effective during this portion of the lesson if the teacher utilizes cooperative learning groups or heterogeneous grouping strategies to form practice groups. This provides an opportunity for peer-tutoring while the teacher circulates among the groups and keeps them on task while monitoring their level of understanding.

 

It is important to remember that individuals are only able to assimilate a certain amount of information before it needs to be organized. Otherwise, new learning interferes with the old and produces confusion. For longer or more complicated lessons it may be critical to stop and get closure at several points throughout the lesson as well as at the end. Students who actively participate in the process are able to reorganize the material and achieve greater retention and clarity of the information.

 

Prior to allowing students time for independent practice, the use of summary or review statements helps students put the information into perspective and identify the key points. It is also helpful if the teacher identifies how it will relate to the lesson planned for the following day. Providing closure, at any point in the lesson, provides students with the opportunity to consolidate and organize what they have learned.

 

After providing adequate explanation and practice in a monitored setting, students should be provided the opportunity to practice the new skill independently. To insure that this practice session is positive and  productive, the material must relate directly to the lesson just mastered.

 

Adherence to Curricular Objectives

 

The third area supervisors are required to evaluate and assess is the teacher's ability to adhere to curricular objectives. To comply with this requirement of SB 813, administrators should assure that teachers are utilizing state frameworks, district curriculum guides, scope and sequence charts, and course outlines to assist them in planning instruction. Lesson plans should have a clearly defined objective that is appropriate to the class learning level and consistent with established district, school, department, or grade level curriculum standards for expected achievement. Further, plans should incorporate the needs, interests, and special talents of students in the class and include enrichment or acceleration activities for students who complete basic tasks early. Activities in the lesson should revolve around the acquisition of new learning.

 

Planning should include a time line so the teacher can monitor the pace of instruction to insure that the intended curricular objectives are taught and mastered in the allocated time. Administrators should verify that a variety of ongoing assessment measures are being utilized by the teacher to monitor achievement of intended objectives. Information from these measures should be used to make adjustments to the pace, objectives, or sequence when necessary. Teachers should utilize district-adopted materials and appropriate supplemental materials to meet individual student's academic needs and learning styles.

 

Teachers should be encouraged by administrators to participate in recommending texts and supplementary materials and developing curriculum so they can utilize their knowledge of students' skills, needs, and interests in selecting a product that will more closely meet the needs of students in the school or grade level.

 

Suitable Learning Environment

 

The fourth and final requirement of SB 813 is that evaluators verify that teachers establish and maintain a suitable learning environment. Therefore, each teacher should develop and implement clear classroom routines and appropriate standards at the beginning of each school year to insure the health, safety, and welfare of their students. This includes maintaining a clean, safe, and orderly learning environment that includes establishment of good work habits and discipline. Teachers should post and communicate the classroom standards and procedures as well as the consequences for misbehavior with students and their parents. Students should show evidence of respect for the rules in the classroom and on the campus. Teachers should strive to be fair, firm, and consistent as they maintain effective student control in the classroom and uphold the rules throughout the school. Teachers should refer students to support staff when necessary to maintain the appropriate learning environment.

 

Administrators should ensure that appropriate behavior is supported with regular and ongoing recognition and reinforcement activities. Mutual respect among pupils, teachers, and staff should be evident on campus and in classrooms. Everyone should work together cooperatively, communicate with sensitivity, and utilize appropriate language. Administrators and teachers should serve as role models for students in developing self-control, a sense of responsibility, and attitudes of tolerance and sensitivity.

 

Emergency procedures should be reviewed with students and practiced regularly. In addition, administrators should verify that materials and supplies that will be needed in an emergency, including exit routes and student information, are readily available.

 

Teachers should adjust the heating, lighting, and ventilation to promote comfort. The classroom arrangement should make good use of space, foster good study habits, and enable students to see and hear instruction. The classroom should have attractive and appropriate visuals and decorations that do not distract from learning.

 

Good home-school relationships help create a positive learning environment and can be enhanced by regular communication. This can include information on what is to be taught as well as the methods and materials that will be used to achieve the objectives. Evaluators should check to see that systems have been established to communicate with parents on a regular basis regarding student progress. Parents should have opportunities for classroom visitations as well as parent conferences. Teachers should make every effort to promptly return parents' phone calls.

 

Supervision Strategies

 

Supervision of instruction must be built on the observer's thorough understanding and in-depth knowledge of instructional theory, not on a check list of what should be in a lesson.

 

Gathering Data

 

Three main sources of information help identify a teacher's competency on the four SB 813 criteria. They include: observations, interviews, and documents.

 

Observations should include walk-throughs conducted on at least a weekly basis. These brief visits, lasting only a minute or two, provide a quick look at teacher performance and classroom environmental factors. Walk-throughs are helpful in identifying ongoing patterns of behavior. An informal observation is an unannounced visit lasting more than 10 minutes during which the teacher's behaviors or classroom factors may be observed to document consistent trends or patterns of behavior. The informal observation can be followed by a written summary or conference with the teacher.

 

A formal observation is an announced visit lasting an agreed-upon amount of time. During the observation, the administrator records what was said by the teacher and the students. The formal observation also includes a pre- and post-conference and a written summary. The summary includes a description of the conference, observation, observer's judgments, and agreements or directions for changes in teacher behaviors, activities, or classroom environment. A peer observation is agreed upon by the teacher and peer and can be used to verify a trend or pattern of behavior perceived by the evaluator.

 

Interviews are also a helpful source of obtaining information. They can include discussions with students to verify perceptions. At times, parents request a conference to discuss their perceptions. In addition, other members of the administrative team or classified employees who are assigned to work in the classroom can be interviewed to provide their perceptions.

 

The review of various types of documents can be helpful in identifying trends or behaviors. These include written parent and student letters or complaint forms. Individual pieces of students' work, folders, or portfolio assessments which contain a number of samples of students' work also provide helpful information on their achievement. Documents should include both formative (ongoing assessment measures) and summative measures (culminating assessment) including homework, practice exercises completed in class, examinations, and student projects.

 

Reviewing student work on district developed criterion-referenced tests is also helpful. An analysis of the lesson plans in respect to required or recommended district curriculum requirements or course outlines is also beneficial.

 

Teacher Conferencing

 

Conferences throughout the year provide a means to communicate the evaluation of the teacher's performance. Decisions shared during the conference are based upon the data collected through observations, review of documents, and interviews that relate to the assessment and evaluation of the teacher's ability to meet the requirements of SB 813 as adopted by the local district governing board. The conference should provide the teacher with the means to change unsatisfactory behavior or options for enhancement of performance. The conference should provide an opportunity to expand the teacher's knowledge and concepts and reinforce his or her understanding of the missions of the school. The pre-conference is held before a formal observation and provides the administrator with the opportunity to obtain as much information about the upcoming observation as possible.

 

Post-conferences can be collaborative, guided, or directive in nature. Each type of conference is planned by the supervising administrator to achieve a different goal. A collaborative conference is effective when the teacher is able to identify problem areas, suggest alternatives, develop a plan, and is ready and willing to grow professionally, needing little support. This conference is designed to conclude with mutually determined follow-up activities that will enhance the teacher's capabilities. The conference begins with the teacher presenting an overview and analysis of the lesson that was observed. The teacher identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson while the administrator listens to the teacher's perceptions. The administrator then verifies the teacher's perceptions and offers his or her own opinions. After this mutual exchange, possible activities for the next steps are discussed and the conference concludes with agreement on a final plan.

 

A guided conference is effective for teachers who have difficulty identifying problem areas and alternatives to current practices and need support to carry out the action plan. In addition, the guided conference is effective with a teacher who has little or no difficulty identifying areas that need improvement but is unwilling or not committed to making the necessary changes. During a guided conference it is important that the principal provides prompts to encourage the teacher's thinking, to allow the teacher freedom to explore various possibilities, and to enable the teacher to make a commitment.

 

During the guided conference the teacher is encouraged to describe the lesson observed. The administrator probes for further information and possible plans for growth and time frames. The administrator paraphrases his or her understanding of the teacher's messages and asks for clarification when necessary. At the culmination of the guided conference the teacher restates the criteria for action and the time frame.

 

A directive conference is effective for teachers who cannot identify problem areas, require a great deal of support, and are unwilling or unable to change. In conducting the directive conference the administrator identifies the problems and allows the teacher to provide input. The administrator shares the details of a plan for support and assistance that is designed to enable the teacher to meet the desired expectations. Following the conference the administrator directs and monitors the follow-up activities. It is the administrator's responsibility to provide support, monitor the time line activities, and to evaluate the degree of effectiveness resulting from the assistance.

 

During each conference it is important to stay on the topic and focus on the data and documentation regarding the lessons observed. If the data collected clearly indicate a change must occur to increase student learning, a directive for change is appropriate. Some administrators find this type of conference difficult. It is important to avoid compromising statements that provide an excuse for poor performance like, "I know this is asking a lot since it's your first year in advanced science," or "You shouldn't be concerned that the lesson didn't go well, it happens to everyone." When teachers make threats or caustic statements, the administrator must remember that teachers who use this strategy are often diverting attention from the task at hand. It is important to avoid this diversion and remain on task.

 

At the close of a collaborative, guided, or directive conference there should be an agreed-upon or directed statement clearly outlining the changes expected in the undesirable patterns of behavior, and where  appropriate, the specific professional growth activities that will be utilized to achieve the desired changes. The statement should include the support and assistance, monitoring process, time lines for skill transfer, observable changes, and which data will be reviewed. When preparing the statement it is important to select several changes that will have the greatest effect on students' learning. Once the focus is established it is important to consider what is reasonable to achieve in the given time frame. The administrator who will monitor

and conduct the review should consider all data needed to document whether the desired changes have taken place.

 

Planning the Conference

 

In preparation for the conference, the administrator will need to review the data and identify the strengths and areas of concern. The administrator should select only one or two behavioral changes and the professional growth activity or activities that will have the greatest effect on the learning for the largest number of students. These selected areas will be the focus or objective of the conference. It will be necessary to identify specific aspects of the data collected that support the need for growth in these areas. It is helpful to formulate questions before the conference that will help the teacher focus on these issues or clarify aspects of the lesson for the administrator. The administrator should identify possible resources and personnel that could assist in a follow-up plan prior to the conference. The recommendations considered should be doable and reasonable based on the teacher's readiness and the time available. The administrator should select the type of conference  collaborative, guided, or directive) and prepare a conference outline. A good conference should last 30-40 minutes. Longer sessions become an ordeal for both the teacher and the administrator. It is the administrator's responsibility to have his or her thoughts well-organized and to keep the conference on task so it can be completed in a timely manner.

 

During the conference the teacher and/or administrator should cite purpose, strengths, and areas of concern with reference to supporting data. A follow-up plan with the desired specific outcome, activities, and a summary of decisions should be developed.

 

The evaluation conference should be held at the close of the evaluation period or at the end of the year. The purpose of the conference is to communicate the teacher's rating based upon the SB 813 performance criteria adopted by the district and should include any commendations for exemplary performance. Additionally, the conference should provide an opportunity to expand the teacher's thinking and develop means to strengthen performance. The conference provides yet another forum to communicate and clarify the school's missions, goals, and values. The administrator prepares for the evaluation conference in much the same manner as other conferences. The administrator should review all of the data collected to-date, including conference memoranda and data prepared during the evaluation period. He or she should determine the teacher's ratings,

commendations, and recommendations, then prepare the evaluation forms. In addition, the administrator should identify the objectives that will have the greatest effect on student learning, recommendations for improvement, methods of improvement and support, and a reasonable time line. The administrator should select the type of conference (collaborative, guided, or directive) and formulate questions that help guide the staff to review specific areas of performance.

 

The teacher and administrator should develop plans for enhancement or improvement. Following the conference the administrator should prepare a legally sound evaluation conference memorandum following the format suggested in the next section. Summative evaluation written documentation is required by law and must be delivered in person to the teacher no later than thirty days prior to the end of the school year.

 

Memorandum and Letters of Reprimand

 

In education, a memorandum is often defined as any written material given to a teacher regarding his or her performance or conduct. There are a wide variety of administrative correspondence that qualify as memoranda. These include observation checklists, letters regarding an observation or conference, and letters summarizing a conference. To insure that the desired results are achieved it is important that memoranda be legally sound. Memorandum, as well as letters of reprimand, must be written in a timely manner, should include a reference date, and state specific facts. These can include the date, time, place, and names of others who were present and/or witnesses of the actions of the staff member being evaluated or reprimanded. These actions should be described in an explicitly factual and objective manner using sensory facts (what was seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled). Subjective opinions, conclusions, or educational jargon should be avoided. The consequences of the performance or action on students, teachers, classified staff, administrators, or the work unit, should be described.

 

Extenuating or enhancing circumstances surrounding the performance should also be noted, as well as the teacher's reasons or motives for the action if they were expressed. The appropriate and related teaching certificates of the staff member should be referenced as well as related staff development efforts. Letters which cite unsatisfactory behavior should reference the contract provision, rules, regulations, students' rights, guidelines, and curriculum guides that were upheld or violated. Previous oral or written commendations or reprimands or warnings, including compliments or complaints from students or parents that are related to the actions described in the memo, should be noted. Efforts related to this area that have been made in the past to

assist the staff member and the employer's reactions to these efforts (positive and negative) should be  teviewed. The author should state his or her belief regarding the likelihood of recurrence. If it is a letter of reprimand; it must be specifically stated. If this is the case, the letter should indicate that the staff member is being given another opportunity to improve their performance with the hope they will be successful. The letter should state that if the staff member does not improve, further disciplinary action will follow, although the specific action should not be noted. On both the memorandum and letter of reprimand it must indicate that the staff member has the right to respond. The letter should be handed, not mailed, to the employee with a copy

forwarded to the personnel office for inclusion in the staff member's personnel file.

 

Staff Development

 

The quality of student learning is directly related to the quality of classroom instruction. Therefore, one of the most important aspects of instructional leadership is to provide the necessary climate to promote ongoing instructional improvement. To accomplish this, the instructional supervisor must be able to plan and deliver effective staff development programs. The leadership needs to insure that staff development efforts have the appropriate financial resources; adequate time set aside to plan, conduct, and implement the programs; and time for staff to practice the new skills. Further, teachers need the verbal support and physical attendance at sessions by the supervisors to verify their commitment. Teachers should be involved in the identification of their own staff development needs. They must be involved in the planning and delivery of staff development activities to gain the greatest acceptance. Collaboration of teachers and supervisors will enhance the staff development  program and lead to improved student learning. Staff development programs need to be comprehensive and continuous programs that are carefully designed for personal and organizational growth. The activities should be founded upon strong theoretical, conceptual, or research bases. The information must be related to practice with ample opportunities provided for modeling and coaching. Professional training sessions developed for teachers must be consistent with adult learning theory. A well-planned and administered staff development program may be one of the most critical factors in the improvement of instruction and subsequently in the increase in student learning.

 

Conclusion

 

The supervision of instruction is by design a developmental process with the main purpose of improving the instructional program, generally and teaching, specifically. Only when this process is carefully planned and executed can success be assured.

 

The supervisory function is best utilized as a continuous process rather than one that responds only to personnel problems. Administrators with supervisory responsibility have the opportunity to have tremendous influence on the school program and help ensure the benefits of a strong program of instruction for children.

 

Discussion Questions

 

1. Make a list of adjectives that describe the characteristics of an effective school supervisor. Identify any items that would not apply to an administrator. Why not?

 

2. What are the five most important skills a supervisor must possess to improve the quality and diversity of instruction in the school?

 

3. List questions that could be asked in a pre-observation conference to obtain a clear idea of what is planned for the lesson you will observe. What questions could be used in the post-conference to encourage teachers to discuss portions of the lesson that did not achieve the desired outcomes?

 

4. Which strategies can supervisors use to help teachers view evaluation as a way of improving instructional opportunities for students?

 

Suggested Projects or Activities

 

1. Interview two teachers to determine what processes and behaviors displayed by their supervisors are most effective in helping them improve their teaching. Summarize the interview, describe the differences and similarities in the two viewpoints. Conclude with your reactions.

 

2. Interview two practicing school administrators to determine the steps they use for  teacher evaluation and what they look for when conducting a classroom observation.  Summarize the interviews, compare the two interviews, and react to the findings.

 

3. Observe a lesson. Submit your notes, or script, from the observation as well as the objectives you would have selected for a conference with the teacher.

 

4. Work with a colleague and go through the steps from pre-conference, observation, to conference; to complete the clinical supervision of a classroom lesson.

 

5. Interview at least three teachers to determine their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of inservice and staff development programs. Summarize and conclude with your reactions and observations.

 

Suggested Readings

 

Acheson, K., & Gall, M. (1987). Techniques in the clinical supervision of teachers (2nd ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman.

 

Beach, D., & Reinhartz, J. (1989). Supervision: Focus on instruction. New York: Harper& Row.

 

Borich, G. (1990). Observational skills for effective teaching. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

 

Duckworth, E. (1987). The having of wonderful ideas and other essays on teaching and learning. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

Glickman, C. D. (1985). Supervision of instruction: A developmental approach. Boston:

Allyn and Bacon.

 

Good, T., & Brophy, J. (1987). Looking in classrooms (4th ed.). New York: Harper & Row.

 

Joyce, B. (Ed.). (1990). Changing school culture through staff decisions development. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

McNeil, J., & Wils, J. (1990). The essentials of teaching: Decisions, plans, methods. New York: Macmillan.

 

Smith, W., & Andrews, R. (1989). Instructional leadership: How principals make a difference. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Stanley, S., & Popham, J. (1990). Teacher evaluation: Six prescriptions for success.

 

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Zumwalt, K. (Ed.). (1986). Improving teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for

 

Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

References

 

Ausubel, D. P. (1960). Use of advance organizers in the learning and retention of  meaningful verbal material. Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, 267-272.

 

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Education Codes of California. (1991). West's Annotated Education Codes. St. Paul, MN: West.

 

Emmer, E., & Evertson, C. (1979). Some prescriptions and activities for organizing and managing the elementary classroom. Austin, TX: The Research and Development Center for Teacher Education.

 

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Good, I. J. (1983). Good thinking: The foundations of probability and its applications.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

 

Hunter, M. (1982). Mastery teaching. Lansing, MI: TIP.

 

Hunter, M., & Russel, D. (1977, September). How can I plan more effective lessons? Instructor, 87, 74-75.

 

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R., Holubec, E. J., & Roy, P. (1984). Circles of learning: Cooperation in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Joyce, B. R., & Weil, M. (1986). Models of teaching (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice-Hall.

 

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Russel, D., & Hunter M. (1977, September). Planning for effective instruction.  Instructor, 87.