Cogan The Teacher-Supervisor Relationship
Cogan, M. (1973). Clinical supervision. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Chapter 5: The Teacher-Supervisor Relationship
The Domain of the Clinical Supervisor
- The domain of the clinical supervisor is the teacher. The subject is the teacher's classroom behavior. The subject is the focus of clinical supervision not the teacher's personality.
- "In order to facilitate change in the teacher's classroom behavior the clinical supervisor seeks to establish a working relationship and supervisory processes that will enable the teacher to share equal responsibility for the design of the changes to be made. The goals of this partnership are not achieved until the teacher also (1) knows why he is changing his behavior, (2) wants to change it, and (3) derives professional satisfactions from doing so (p. 58)."
The Superior-Subordinate Relationship
- Most clinical supervision is conducted using superior-subordinate relationships where the teacher is inferior. Such relationships are detrimental and counterproductive in clinical supervision.
- Cogan challenges us to reverse this deeply engrained relationship and consider its reversal - the teacher as the superior. In this scenario, would clinical supervision still be effective? Is any superior-subordinate relationship effective?
The Teacher-Student Relationship
- This type of relationship is also counterproductive because one, the learner, feels inferior. Teachers perceive the role of student as implying incompetence. "Thus the usual teacher-student relationship, with its positions and counter-positions of more knowledgeable and less knowledgeable, more mature and less mature, more experienced and less experienced, may arouse the teacher's resistance (p. 60)."
- The conception of the supervisory relationship as teacher-student is problematic.
The Counselor-Client Relationship
- Although some parallels can be made, viewing clinical supervision as a counselor-client relationship is also problematic. (My thoughts - I would argue that a power dynamic still exists in a counselor-client relationship because the counselor holds the knowledge and prescribes the medicine.)
The Supervisor as Evaluator or Rater
- Another type of evaluation: "The supervisor may make another kind of evaluation by taking the individual teacher as his frame of reference. In such an operation the supervisor estimates the teacher's capacity and rates him on the extent to which he realized his abilities (p. 63)."
- Evaluation is inevitable because to evaluate is human nature.
- "The fabric of the teacher-supervisor relationship, therefore, is almost invariably colored by some threads of the rater-ratee relationship, at least in the initial phases of the supervisory program (p. 63)."
- Evaluation has negative effects on the relationship.
- It is impossible to separate completely from evaluation. "One has already been mentioned: the residue of anxiety that persists because the supervisee knows that human beings (including supervisors) tend to evaluate, and because the supervisor's special training predisposes him to it and makes him especially adept at it (p. 64)." These feelings impact the relationship negatively.
- (My thoughts - Cogan poses the question regarding who will evaluate for administrative purposes if supervisors do not. I wonder if peers or better yet a panel of individuals. How would this play out with teacher education? Having peer evaluation implies competence on the peers, but in teacher education, supervisors are the gatekeepers of the profession. Maybe the responsibility should be shared between the supervisor and the mentor.)
- "The supervisor should clearly divorce himself from the role of evaluator or rater, unless and until he and the teacher agree that such a role would be productive for both (p. 65)."
- "The supervisor should not attempt to picture himself to the teacher as being without, above, or beyond evaluation (p. 65)."
- The supervisor should bear in mind that the use of feedback based on the sound and convincing data is one of the mainstays of clinical supervision and will strengthen the T ⇐⇒ S relationship, even though the teacher may at first have a tendency to distill evaluation from it (p. 65)."
- "The supervisor should seek to establish a relationship calculated to deal with the teacher's residual anxieties about evaluation, a relationship characterized by mutual trust, confidentiality, and confidence (p. 65)."
The "Helping Relationship" in Supervision
- This type of relationship is also hierarchical despite good intentions because the one (the helpee) is perceived as defiant and in need of help.
Pitfalls: (Cogan references Ibid pp. 79-81 and 114-115.)
- "Some helpers become so fond of giving advice that they forget to check the relevance of their advice.
- The helper may be unaware of resistances in the helpee, who may aver that he has no problems or blame them on someone else.
- The helper may overpraise the helpee in an effort to establish a good relationship. He may be reluctant to confront the helpee with the hard realities of his situation.
- The helpee may not relish exposing his problems.
- People are generally afraid of what others will think of them. The more helpless and inadequate an individual feels, the more likely he is to feel afraid of the opinions of others.
- People who receive help may lose a sense of independence and become dependent.
- The helpee may set up defense mechanisms - rationalization, projection, logic-tight thinking, repression, and withdrawal (p. 66)."
- "As soon as a situation arises in which one person needs help and another gives it, a situationally determined hierarchy tends to be established. This hierarchy is characterized by the ascendance of the giver and the subordination of the receiver (p. 66)."
- "In brief, in clinical supervision it is not more blessed to give than to receive, and neither giving nor receiving should primarily characterize the role of teacher or supervisor (p. 67)."
- "The concepts of teacher, counselor, and helper all denote and connote a hierarchical relationship, and it is precisely this connotation that constitutes the root of our objection to them (p. 67)."
Clinical Supervision as Colleagueship
- Definition: "In colleagueship the teacher and clinical supervisor work together as associates and equals, and they are bound together by a common purpose. This purpose is the improvement of students' learning through the improvement of the teacher's instruction, and it does not diminish the autonomy and independence the teacher should have (p. 68)."
- Why administrators struggled with this type of relationship: "Most supervisors have 'risen' from the ranks of teachers. Some gain satisfaction and are enhanced in their self-esteem when they are able to exert power over the teacher or exhibit greater skills. Or it may simply be easier for the supervisor to work from an assumption of superiority, greater wisdom, experience, or training, which may relieve him of the difficult job of trying to analyze the teacher's teaching (p. 68)."
- "The rationale for the collegial relationship derives from a conviction that both the teacher and the supervisor give and receive support: in the colleagueship it is easier for professionals to help each other and at the same time strengthen themselves professionally and personally than it is within the structure of the other relationships commonly recommend for supervision (p. 69)."
- The supervisee should be a participant rather than an object.
The Psychological-Social Level at Which the Supervisor Works
- "The principal phenomena with which they deal are the classroom behaviors of the teacher and the students (p. 69)."
- "The supervisor, therefore, deals with a limited sector of the teacher's behavior. In attempting to bring about changes in that sector, he again limits his domain by dealing with the observable behavior of a teacher who is assumed to be at least minimally health - physically, mentally, and emotionally (pp. 69-70)."
- "The nonthreatening relationship, the clear understanding about ground rules, the roles and functions developed int eh supervisory relationship, and the shared responsibility for its success are all viewed as facilitators of behavioral change (p. 70)."
- "In summary, social friendship between teacher and supervisor may on occasion be nonfunctional (p. 71)."
- "But the professional relationship in clinical supervision should not, therefore, be viewed as cold, distant, or neutral. The close and continued interaction in the cycle of supervision, combined with the importance the work has for both participants, usually generates an intense interaction (p. 71)."