Essay: Personal Philosophy of Supervision What Is Supervisory

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Personal Philosophy of Supervision

What is supervisory leadership? According to Delores E. McNair -- writing in the peer-reviewed journal New Directions for Student Services -- leadership refers to the way in which a person has an influence on an organization but supervision is "…about the people in the organization who may report to us" (McNair, 2011, 28).

My beliefs and philosophy of supervision

My beliefs about supervision are drawn from my most central values; those values include: a) treating people with respect and kindness; b) giving everyone an equal chance; c) being fair and just no matter the person's socioeconomic situation or ethnic heritage; and d) bringing out the strong points of each individual while accomplishing goals that are agreed upon by all within the organization.

My philosophy of supervision is that people will respond to the tasks assigned if they believe in the goals that are set out and the strategies involved in completing those tasks. My philosophical approach to supervision is that everyone on the committee or in the organization will strive to do their fair share if the supervisor is believable, if he establishes trust among the participants and if he pitches in on projects the same as others do.

TWO: Provide examples that illustrate your beliefs

The task of supervising teachers doesn't necessarily mean directing all that they do or setting out exact projects for each person and then overseeing those project; micro-management is difficult and generally does not engender trust in the supervisor. An example of good supervision in my opinion is the process during which new and creative curricula is being developed. Teachers, counselors and administrators work together "…in a collective, purposeful manner uniting organizational goals and teacher needs" to enhance student learning, according to professor of Education Dennis Treslan of Memorial University of Newfoundland. In this process teachers are not subordinates; they are partners in a cooperative sharing of ideas and information. Teachers' ideas for appropriate curriculum changes have great value because they are closer to the students than administrators; hence, supervision simply means gathering together new information that has been developed by teachers and collectively culling out the best ideas as a team in preparation for implementation.

Another example of how my philosophy of supervision can help to make schools more efficient places of learning is by creating a "welcoming environment" that is supportive of experimental and innovative ideas and strategies. Teachers are asked by their supervisor to research what other schools are doing to create trust between students and teachers. The teachers are given time during school to do the research and then to take the best ideas from other schools and work together with other teachers to formulate the best ways to implement those ideas. The supervisor (who has also done research into the same issues) merely collects the reports and helps (through collaboration) to lead a discussion about which projects will work in this school.

Collaboration is "…both an attitude and a repertoire of behaviors, where the outcome becomes a mutual plan of action" (Treslan, p. 2). Teachers are trained professionals, so they don't need to be directed; they need to feel as though the supervisor trusts them to make decisions in the best interest of the students and so to the supervisor they are collaborators and partners in projects that the supervisor sees as a learning experience for all that are involved. The supervisor in the scenario described above is a facilitator, using good communication skills to empower teachers, who in turn empower their students to solve problems strive for excellence.

THREE: Which of the four supervisory approaches (non-directive; collaborative; directive informational; and directive control) do I see as meshing with my personal philosophy?

I embrace the collaborative approach (teachers and administrators working in cooperative partnerships) in nearly every school context. An article in the U.S.-China Education Review points out that school principals are "overwhelmed with daily administrative duties"; they have demanding schedules and on top of everything they are expected to do they are asked to adapt to "the reality of continuous reform within their institution" (Bouchamma, et al., 2012). And if the students in any given school are not achieving as expected, then yes, the responsibility lies in the hands of the principal, but utilizing the collaborative approach to supervision the principal does not simply issue edicts that must be followed. His or her task in this context is to improve the quality of teaching "…by enabling teachers to evolve and improve their competency" and by doing that the principal has collaboratively initiated a policy that helps students (Bouchamma, 628).

Slick explains that collaborative supervision entails certain specific communication behaviors; they include: "problem solving, sharing, brainstorming, compromising, consensus, negotiating, teamwork, and mutual goal-setting" (Slick, 2000). When a university supervisor is in a conference with a teacher -- evaluating a student teacher -- the supervisor's role is to "…first actively listen to the teacher candidate's reflections" (Slick). The teacher and supervisor as the candidate how she felt about the test lesson play and its process, what went well and what didn't go well.

"Next the university supervisor and/or cooperating teacher present their own position…" (in response to the teacher candidate's reflection) with descriptions in terms of their own experiences and its impact on them. "In my own experience…" and "It is my belief" are perfect examples of "I" messages given by the experienced teacher and the supervisor (Slick). This is basic communication and collaboration because the teacher candidate is not being scolded or judged by the experienced teacher and the supervisor. What is taking place is good communication and once the teacher and supervisor have had their say in response to the candidate's initial input, "…a list of possible solutions (to the problem approached by the candidate) is generated by [all] parties involved" (Slick).

The search for commonalities and the desire for compromise are both part of the collaborative process. The collaborative supervisory approach means the experienced teacher must accept the teacher candidate "…as an equal in making instructional decisions" and all three are given an ideal chance for a "collaborative supervisory approach" (Slick). And when a cooperating teacher becomes a "mentor" for a student teacher (also called an "intern"), those two work as co-teachers and that helps the student teacher "…grow within a caring context" (Silva, et al., 2001, p. 312). The collaborating mentor feels a commitment to guide the student teacher because the mentor knows that going beyond "minimal tutorials" is vital if the overall goal of the school is to prepare young people with the best possible competencies and resources (Silva, 312).

FOUR: Evaluate your own philosophy vis-a-vis the role and necessary skills of a principal. The principal that truly believes in a collaborative supervisory approach must have certain skills; to wit, I am aware that to be a competent professional I must also know that "competencies" are "habits of behavior and underlying motivations" and a principal can use those competencies to evaluate student or teacher outcomes, and to determine if the qualities of an applicant are appropriate for employment (Steiner, et al., 2011). Knowledge is basic to good supervisorial leadership. But not just knowledge of administration particulars; he or she must also possess knowledge of human behaviors in educational settings as well as knowledge of his or her staff's abilities and shortcomings. One of my areas of responsibilities that is a work in progress are my technical skills when it comes to changing and emerging technologies; I attend workshops to update my skills or I quickly fall behind. My interpersonal skills have been honed in college as I served in leadership roles in student government domains; I learned that getting along with people in a collaborative environment is absolutely pivotal in terms of attaining success in a school environment. The structure of each… [END OF PREVIEW]

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