Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’

Leadership and Supervision

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author:  Dr. Lauralee Pankonien, Senior Coordinator for Educator Quality and Diane Potter, Coordinator for Administrator Quality


There are a multitude of hats worn by campus leaders, so many that it is often difficult to decide which one is the most important or how to decide where to begin.  So let’s start with the assumption, based on data and research, that no role of a campus leader will impact student achievement more than that of SUPERVISION.

Of course, we need to begin with a clear definition of supervision.  For the purposes of this article, let’s define supervision as the process by which individuals in the school are supported in accomplishing their goal of improving student performance.  Put another way, supervision draws together the discrete elements of instructional effectiveness into whole school action.

To get further clarity before we move on, let’s think about what is involved.

Supervision must be:

  • learner-centered and based upon the identified needs of teachers and yourself as the instructional leader
  • based on high expectations for growth toward more expert professional practice
  • collaboratively implemented and supported by collegial professional relationships
  • an essential part of the continuous improvement process
  • used by both teachers and instructional leaders
  • individual and campus-wide growth

As we think of each of these components, it’s also important that we think about the FOUR CRITICAL PREMISES that serve as the foundation for the process:

It should be obvious by now that leadership for innovation requires a person with a vision and the capacity to extend it to others. An effective leader is continually moving toward the vision through meeting his/her individual responsibilities as an instructional leader, utilizing the Continuous Improvement Process on the campus as a whole. Supervision is an ongoing process and a function filled with a multitude of daily activities and responsibilities that must be accomplished. Learning to prioritize those activities is critical in order to keep the focus on student achievement.  FINDING TIME for supervision means preserving time for those key interactions with faculty and staff.


How does an effective campus leader find that time?  Rather than giving oneself absolutes, it is often more manageable to think in terms of decreasing some behaviors and increasing others.



decisions based on assumptions data-driven decisions
directive leadership collaborative leadership
assuming the role of expert who knows what is best assuming the role of being a facilitator who encourages self-direction among staff


Once supervision is given the emphasis and time required, the next most important step is for the campus leader to focus on FEEDBACK.  But not just any feedback, as Glickman points out.  Providing quality feedback assists and supports teachers, enabling them to succeed. A supervisor’s function is to provide direct assistance to ensure that teachers receive feedback, are not left alone, and are involved as part of a collective staff.‖ (Glickman, Gordon, and Gordon, 1998)  Effective feedback will help you as campus leader to keep good teachers in the classroom.

The purpose of informal feedback is:

    • to positively reinforce strong instructional strategies
    • to assist in focus for walk-throughs
    • to identify resources for sustained support

Pairing the informal feedback with formal feedback and direct assistance to teachers is a crucial element of a successful school, always with the focus of professional growth and instructional improvement.

Finally, certainly DOCUMENTATION is critical to the continuous improvement cycle.  The analysis and interpretation of the observation(s) determines  the approach for the conference(s). Documentation is the data collected in a nonjudgmental fashion during the lesson. Data collection is conducted during observations through scripting (verbatim record) and describing (actions and events of teacher and/or students). The importance of documentation is to provide support of legal, ethical, and local policies and decisions. Effective documentation provides accurate communication to the teacher and is a part of appropriate personnel procedures.

Effective, ongoing, productive, authentic supervision can and must be accomplished by campus leaders – starting with a CLEAR PLAN and PURPOSE.  Again, effective supervision requires a person with a vision, and the capacity to extend it to others.

Instructional Leadership Development: Moving Texas Forward.  Austin, TX: Texas Education Agency, 2005.

Glickman, Carl D., Gordon, Stephen P. and Ross-Gordon, Jovita M.,  Supervision and Instructional Leadership – A Developmental Approach. New York: Prentice Hall, 2007.