14 November, 2012

Supervision & Evaluation: Emergent Themes

Emergent Themes from Past to Present:

The historical foundations of the supervision of curriculum and instruction identified through seminal texts throughout the history of American Education provide for the emergence of six themes: Bureaucratic, Democratic, Inspection, Participation, Evaluation, and Support (Glanz & Behhar-Horenstein, 2000).  These themes have historically been diagramed as dichotomies.  The earliest introduction of supervision dating back to the late 19th century was introduced as bureaucratic.  The role of supervision was easily confused with the role of evaluation and an autocratic administrator was responsible for the identification and reformation of those teachers that were either proficient or inefficient (Nolan & Hoover, 2008).  A bureaucratic approach to supervision was easily paired with the theme of the inspector that was ultimately evaluative.  The primary goal was to increase student achievement by removing or reforming the weakest teachers with a heavy emphasis on removal (Nolan & Hoover, 2008).

The alternate dichotomy that emerged in the mid 20th century was one that introduced supervision as democratic, participatory, and supportive (Glanz & Behhar-Horenstein, 2000).  The role of the supervisor was to be removed from that of the evaluator and the primary objective was to have the supervisor and teacher work in a coordinated fashion that was collegial, cooperative, and focused on the improvement of curriculum and instruction (Glanz & Behhar-Horenstein, 2000).  The presumption was that teachers who were not performing at an appropriate proficiency level would be more open to becoming more proficient if they felt less threatened by punitive measures.

The confusion within the emergent themes of supervision occurred when Hunter (as cited in Glatthorn et al., 2009) challenged the dichotomies that were in place.  Rather than a supervisor having to adhere to one or the other organization of themes, Hunter provided for a role that was bureaucratic and democratic, inspective and participatory, supportive with room for evaluation pending a teacher’s effective use of support (Mandeville & Rivers, 1989).  Hunter laid the foundation for future trends in supervision that revolve around distributed leadership including: peer coaching, literacy coaching, cognitive coaching, and instructional coaching.


Glanz, J., & Behhar-Horenstein, L. (Eds.). (2000). Supervision: Don’t discount the value of the modern. Paradigm debates in curriculum and supervision: Modern and Postmodern perspectives (pp. 70-92). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.

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

Mandeville, G. K., & Rivers, J. (1989, May). Is the Hunter model a recipe for supervision? . Educational Leadership, 46(8), 39-43.

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

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