Foundations of the Curriculum Supervision and Instruction

Developments in the field of curriculum supervision and instruction have continued to receive several dynamics that are relevant to modern times. Seminars on supervision of curriculum and instruction in recent times have emphasized that administrators should play a much bigger role in curriculum supervision, arguing that content and time have not been given much emphasis in the area of supervision. According to these seminars, curriculum supervision and instruction should be given much content and time allocation that corresponds to education levels and subject areas (Marshall, K. 2009). Ways of making the curriculum supervision practical and liable while at the same time building shared power and authority among colleagues within members of staff are essential. Through this approach, a short curriculum is developed called “working curriculum” instead of a master curriculum that has the following components: timeline for scheming content, objectives of the timeline, evaluation using a common test to determine achievement of objectives, program evaluation and a procedure for improving the program. The last component for improvement entails evaluating each component and suggesting the necessary improvements. The weakness of this approach in assessment is that the teacher loses the authority to determine the content of the curriculum and the timeframe. But on the contrary, it is advantageous in the sense that all stakeholders including administration, teachers, parents and students are aware of the content and objectives. Teachers will begin collaborating which will lead to improved instructions and instruction in the curriculum (Nolan, J & Hoover, L. A., 2008).

The history of supervision can be traced back to the New England colonial era where it started as a process of outdoor examination, ordinary citizens were given tasks to go and find out what teachers were teaching and what students were learning. The intention of the inspection was considered the main practice of supervision. History of supervision formally began in late 1830s after inception of a common school as administrators used it to monitor what was happening in the classroom. Population growth in major cities in early 19th century made it necessary to design a school system. According to Cogan (1973), “the work of inspecting schools was done by superintendents while ensuring that teachers taught what was prescribed in the curriculum and students were able to recite their lessons.” A sudden growth in the number of schools made this practice for superintendents impossible forcing principals to handle the task of inspection. Movements that characterized the early 19th century to transform traditional management of industries and public administration to scientific management played a major role in influencing school inspection. At this particular time, ideas of the famous theorists of education including John Dewey, Froebel, Pestalozzi was influencing education management that also included instruction methods. These movements together with ideologies of the theorists above gave pressure on school supervisors to use scientific approaches to evaluate teachers and transform teaching practices from routinely repetitive protocols to diversified teaching methods that address the needs and readiness of students.

Supervision gained ground in the 2nd half of the century especially in the area of clinical supervision. Clinical supervision methods were first developed by Morris Cogan and Robert Anderson (1973) who were lecturers at Harvard University. They developed clinical supervision approaches in the classroom to attain objectivity and scientific classroom surveillance characterized with collective responsibility, proper planning, and a flexible learning that gets feedback from students and the teacher. One of the proponents of clinical supervision, Robert Goldhammer in 1969, proposed five stages that clinical supervision ought to follow and they include: interviewing the teacher before the start of the lesson to find out the aspects to be observed, classroom observation, analysis of the observation, discussion between the supervisor and the teacher and finally the analysis of the supervisor regarding the last discussions with the teacher. A lot of emphases was given to collegiality especially on teachers to improve student learning and the inquiry process.

Clinical supervision had to change with time to put into consideration the perspectives of post-Sputnik reforms that widely caught the attention of educators in nineteen sixties. Afterward, research proposals that claimed to have discovered effective schools and classrooms overshadowed the clinical supervision process. In the nineteen seventies and eighties, quasi-scientific approaches for efficient teaching were adopted as proposed by Madeline Hunters’ research in psychology of learning. Garman (1986) argued that curriculum and teaching were mainly understood through the processes of clinical supervision and it became a routine for teachers and supervisors. Garman argued that, “the model of supervision developed by Cogan and Goldhammer in clinical supervision was still the most preferred in academic circles.” This supervision approach has continued to dominate among the advocates of supervision and friendly teacher guidance in the classroom. The disadvantage with clinical supervision, irrespective of taking different forms, is that it is time-consuming and requires big manpower to implement given the large number of schools and teachers (Anderson, H. and Snyder, J. 1993).

To solve the problem of restraining among supervisors, Sergiovanni and Starratt, in 1998, came up with a proposal to develop a system of supervision that integrates several elements of supervision including summative evaluation. Direct involvement of supervisors would not be necessary for this system because it would cycle professional teachers within a specified period of time say, three to five years while they receive a formal evaluation in all aspects of teaching and learning. A cycle of formal evaluation would require some proof of professional growth. The proposals by Sergiovani and Starrat have dominated modern supervision practices whereby, supervision place emphasis on professional growth rather than the clinical supervision procedures (Harris, 1986).

Several issues and trends continue to emerge in the field of supervision and evaluation of instruction in school environment. These issues impact each other either positively or negatively. To start with, there is the issue of teachers being supervised using test results. Teachers are directly held responsible for increasing the scores of students, therefore, supervisors including district administrators are using the results of the tests to determine the competence of individual teachers and in case that the whole school is performing poorly, competence of all teachers is scrutinized (Glanz, J. and Neville, R. F., 1997). Glanz and Neville further argue that, “judgment from this approach has led to numerous efforts by teachers to develop professionally.” However, in some districts, the use of test results has led to public blaming of teachers for their low performance. Involvement of teachers in supervision and designing the program for supervision and curriculum is another concern. In teachers’ career development, these developments are supposed to be part of teacher involvement in leadership. This issue brings out a conflict on the nature of supervision that should be done to teachers, thereby leading to formal appraisal of experienced teachers to be done once in five years. Whatever approaches are used in supervision; it has greatly been influenced by the focus on test results that reflect on student learning and by the demand that attention is given to learning of all students. This implies that supervision focuses mainly on investigation of teaching activities rather than autonomous confirmation of student learning. Student learning as used by supervisors, continues to be used to address the plight of students with special needs and low performers. Teachers and supervisors are supposed to take the roles of providing practices that enhance quality learning and responsibility among learners.

According to Blumburg (1980), some issues in the field of supervision and instruction need to be addressed or at least be given considerable attention. In order to approach the big agenda of renewing the school system, systems of supervision at all levels need to integrate their goals and priorities. Policies that have been tested and bring accountability need to address the realities that go on in the classroom and the society. Another issue is the supervisors’ approach to the view of knowledge. Some think that knowledge is something to be delivered while others think it has to be constructed over time by learners in real contexts. Hypothesis about knowledge and its misuse which is rarely spoken of has an impact on how teachers and supervisors approach learning and teaching processes. Another issue that is related to this is the question of the extent to which schools and classrooms should accommodate culture, gender, race and intellectual differences of learners (Firth, G. R., and Pajak, F., 1998).

The future trends of supervision and curriculum instruction are whether the present and past principles will continue to be used. Majority of the scholars and practitioners have proposed that the work of supervision be integrated with other administrative and professional roles. For instance, principals acting as instructional leaders in schools should be added the responsibility of maintaining high-quality standards thereby, eradicating the use of the word supervision (Connelly, F. M., He, M. F., & Phillion, J., (2008).

Reference list

Anderson, H. and Snyder, J. (1993). Clinical Supervision: Coaching for Enhanced Performance. Lancaster, PA: Technomic Publications.

Blumburg, A. (1980). Supervisors and Teachers: A Private Cold War, 2nd edition. Berkeley: McCutcheon.

Cogan, M. (1973). Clinical Supervision. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

Connelly, F. M., He, M. F., & Phillion, J. (Eds.). (2008). The SAGE handbook of curriculum and instruction. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Firth, G. R., and Pajak, F. (1998). Handbook of Research on School Supervision. New York: Macmillan.

Garman, N. (1986). “Reflection, the Heart of Clinical Supervision: A Modern Rational for Practice.” Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 2 (1):1–24.

Garman, N. and Glickman, C. (1987). “Conflicting Conceptions of Clinical Supervision and the Enhancement of Professional Growth and Renewal: Point and Counterpoint.” Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 2 (2):152–177.

Glanz, J. and Neville, R. F. (1997). Educational Supervision: Perspectives, Issues, and Controversies. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon Publishers.

Glatthorn, A. A., Boschee, F., & Whitehead, B. M. (2009). Curriculum leadership: Strategies for development and implementation (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Goldhammer, R. (1969). Clinical Supervision. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Harris, B. (1986). Developmental Teacher Evaluation. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Marshall, K. (2009). Rethinking teacher supervision and evaluation: How to work smart, build collaboration, and close the achievement gap. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.

Nolan, J & Hoover, L. A. (2008). Teacher supervision & evaluation: Theory into practice (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.