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Supervisory conferences from the teacher's perspective : a comparative analysis of teachers' interactive responses in two different dyads Tyler, Janet Patricia


This study investigated the development of two high conceptual level (HCL) teachers in supervision conferences, by examining their responses. HCL teachers were studied because the behaviours associated with HCL functioning can be equated with those which research has identified as characteristic of effective teachers. Furthermore, because studies have found that conceptual level fluctuates easily, it seemed important to investigate the conditions under which supervision might be facilitative of high conceptual functioning. Supervision was thought of as a special case of adult cognitive development. Findings of studies regarding both facilitation of adult cognitive development and supervision of instruction were combined to develop a conceptual model representing facilitation of HCL teacher development. Based on findings reported in the literature, the model postulated that under ideal developmental conditions, an HCL teacher will respond to supervision with comfort and confidence, with active involvement in problem solving, and with autonomous behaviour. The model was used to guide data collection and analysis. For each stage of the model indicators were chosen of teacher's responses and principal's behaviours that the research literature suggests would be apparent under supervisory conditions facilitative of HCL teacher development. These indicators were used to design instruments for the collection of frequency data regarding teacher's responses and principal's behaviours. One of the HCL teachers was supervised by a low conceptual level (LCD principal; the other, by a moderately high conceptual level (M/HCL) principal. The study attempted to ascertain whether the responses of the teacher supervised by the M/HCL principal would indicate that teacher had the better opportunity for development, and whether HCL teacher development seemed to be associated with the supervisor's CL, as previous studies have indicated, or with other factors. Videotapes of supervisory conferences and transcripts of subjects' stimulated recall interviews provided the sources of data. During observation of the videotapes, frequency data were collected by using the instruments that were designed for the study and which asked the question "Are subjects doing this or that?" By contrast, the transcription data collection, which generated the greater amount of data, was more naturalistic and asked "What are the subjects doing?" Unlike those of previous studies, the findings from this study suggested that the HCL teacher who was paired with the M/HCL principal had the lesser opportunity for development. Moreover, the teacher's development seemed to be associated with factors other than the principal's conceptual level, most notably the teacher's high conceptual level and the duration of the principal/teacher supervisory relationship. The findings also suggested that opportunity for development was associated with HCL teachers' comfort and confidence, active involvement, and autonomous behaviour and that the supervisor should facilitate these conditions. Based on the findings, the study concluded that the principal's conceptual level may not be an important factor in HCL teacher supervision, that further study is required to increase understanding of the conditions which nurture HCL teachers' development, that such study should include investigations of teacher/teacher supervision dyads, and that, with slight amendment, the conceptual model could be useful for these studies.

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