Gordon Notes Renaming the Term Supervision

Gordon, S. P. (1997). Has the field of supervision evolved to a point that it should be called something else? Yes. In J. Glanz & R. F. Neville Educational supervision: Perspectives, issues, and controversies (pp. 114-123). Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.

  • The term supervisor connotes hierarchy and control.
  • Synonyms for collegial supervision include democratic supervision, cooperative supervision, clinical supervision, human resource supervision, developmental supervision, and transformational supervision.
  • Collegial supervision is not a new concept; rather, it has lived in the shadow of hierarchical supervision.
  • The struggle with the term supervision - those who mean to use it with regard to historical and industrial applications compared to collegial applications: "Calling supervision supervision has not been a problem for either scholarly camp. After all, both groups knew what they meant by supervision, and although they strongly disagreed with the other camp's concept, they understood what the other group meant when they used the term (p. 116)."
  • "While all of the collegial models mentioned above have been used in professional practice, none of them have ever been used effectively in more than a small percentage of schools. Misinterpretation, misapplication, and co-optation by control supervision have been the typical fate of collegial supervision models (p. 116)."
  • The bastardization (my term) of clinical supervision: "While functioning as intended by Cogan and Goldhammer in a very small number of schools, it has been stripped of its underlying principles and co-opted by teacher evaluation systems in a very large number of schools (p. 116)."
  • "Efforts to tie teacher evaluation to certification for beginning teachers or career ladders have resulted in tremendous expense as well as a great deal of anxiety, stress, competition, and anger on the part of teachers, but they have not brought about long-term changes in teachers instructional behaviors (p. 117)."
  • "In many districts, Hunter's 'essential elements' have become the basis of the district's evaluation instrument. In these districts, then, the packaged program and teacher evaluation forms of supervision are combined (p. 117)."
  • "My argument is that while the primary goal should be a radical shift from control supervision to collegial supervision, changing the name of what we now call supervision, or at least of what is referred to here as collegial supervision will increase the chance of that transition taking place (p. 118)."
  • "Considering the negative psychological events that the word supervision arouses in teachers in many schools, it seems that using that word as the banner under which we attempt to introduce collegiality and empowerment invites confusion at best and suspicion and resistance at worst (p. 118)."
  • "Preparing for and providing leadership beyond the classroom, provided the leadership is voluntary and within an area of the teacher's interest, is a powerful avenue for teacher development (p. 121)."
  • "Contrast this (the above quote) with conventional supervision, which involves inspection and control, and to many teachers restricts rather than fosters professional growth (p. 121)."
  • Teachers are willing to embrace teacher collaboration. However, they must be given time to collaborate and support from the administration.