Sergiovanni & Starratt Redefinition of Supervision Notes

Sergiovanni, T. J., & Starratt, R. J. (2007). Supervision: A redefinition (8th Ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Chapter 1: A Framework for Supervision

  • Introduction
  • Some Background

    • “The failure of students to learn in any given classroom is considered the failure of the teacher to find a way to enable the students to learn (p. 4).”
    • Policy mandates are pressuring schools to improve academic achievement. Teachers and teaching take the brunt of the blame. Consequently, teaching and supervision must be redefined in order to keep up with the political and societal pressures and demands. The focus becomes student learning.
    • “…unless teachers become sufficiently self-managing by accepting more responsibility for their own learning and development, the capacity of the school to provide needed help will be severely taxed (p. 5).”
    • Supervision is not done to or for teachers; it should be done with teachers.
  • Both Role and Function

    • The authors define supervision as: “…engaging in such functions as observing teaching and providing helpful comments, helping teachers to reflect on their practice, teaching a demonstration lesson, suggesting items teachers might include in their portfolios, disaggregating test score data, and conducting formal evaluations of teaching as required by district or state policy (p. 5).”
    • The authors believe that teachers can also serve as supervisors. Teachers who serve in this role carry out the following functions. “Teachers, for example, engage in supervisory functions when they visit each other’s classes to learn and to provide help, to critique each other’s planning, to examine together samples of student work, to pour over the most recent test scores together, to puzzle together over whether assignments they are giving students are appropriate or whether student performance levels meet important standards, to share portfolios and to engage in other activities that increase their learning, the learning of their colleagues, and the quality of teaching and learning that students receive (p. 5).”
    • “Communities of practice are formed as teachers come together in a common effort to help each other teach and learn, to care for each other, and to work together in advancing student academic achievement (p. 5).”
    • A culture of supervision could occur in a community of practice.
  • Leading and Learning Together

    • “But bringing together leadership and learning does not work well in promoting effective teaching and learning for students when the focus is only on meeting the learning needs and interests of teachers one at a time. This one-at-a-time approach is a great way to help teachers get smarter. But smart teachers and smart schools are not the same. A school gets smarter when what teachers learn and what teachers do are aligned with the school’s purposes. A school gets smarter when the school itself is the prime beneficiary of learning (p. 6).”
    • “Learning that counts the most in a school is learning that supports the public good (p. 6).”
    • From reading this chapter, I get the impression that the authors define supervision as:

      • Supervision = professional development
      • Supervision = leadership
      • Supervision = administration
    • Supervisors take on many roles. “Among them are colleague, teacher developer, keeper of the vision, and designed of learning opportunities. They will be able to maintain, as well, a healthy concern for quality control as they strive to push the learning curves of teachers and schools to the limit as they function as stewards on behalf of parents and students (p. 7).”
  • A Framework for Supervision

    • “…the purpose of supervision is to help increase the opportunity and the capacity of schools to contribute more effectively to students’ academic success (p. 7).”
    • “…instructional capacity, instructional quality, and student engagement are listed as the three pathways that supervisors travel in helping schools become more successful (p. 7).”
    • “…we believe that the heart of supervisory leadership is designing opportunities for teachers to continuously expand their capacity to learn, to care, to help each other, and to teach more effectively. We view schools as learning communities where students, teachers, and supervisors alike are learners and teachers depending upon the circumstances (p. 9).”
  • Images of Supervision Scenario
  • Scientific Management, Human Relations, and Neoscientific Management Supervision

    • Scientific management:

      • Characteristics: ACE – Accountability, Control, Efficiency (my acronym)
      • Requires “workers” who do not think or contribute but rather simply follow orders blindly
      • Recipe:

        • “Identify the best way.
        • Develop a work system based on this ‘research.’
        • Communicate expectations to workers.
        • Train workers in the system.
        • Monitor and evaluate in order to ensure compliance (p. 15).”
      • “Scientific management ideas carry over to school supervision when teachers are viewed as implementers of highly refined curriculum and teaching systems and where close supervision is practiced to ensure that they are teaching the way they are supposed to and that they are carefully following approved guidelines and teaching protocols (p. 15).”
    • Human relations:

      • “…the productivity of workers could be increased by meeting their social needs at work, providing them with opportunities to interact with each other, treating them decently, and involving them in the decision-making process (pp. 15-16).”
      • “When it was applied to schooling, teachers were viewed as whole persons in their own right rather than as packages of needed energy, skills, and aptitudes to be used by administrators and supervisors. Supervisors needed to work to create a feeling of satisfaction among teachers by showing interest in them as people (p. 16).”
      • “The movement actually resulted in widespread neglect of teachers. Participatory supervision became permissive supervision, which in practice was laissez-faire supervision (p. 16).”
    • Neoscientific management

      • “Neoscientific management shares with traditional management an interest in control, accountability, and efficiency, but the means by which it achieves these ends is far more impersonal (p. 16).”
      • “A more impersonal way to control what it is that teachers do is to introduce standardized criterion-referenced testing and to make public the scores by class and school. Since it is accepted that what gets measured gets taught, tests serve as an impersonal method of controlling the teacher’s work (in neoscientific management).”
  • Human Resources Supervision

    • “Human resources represents a higher regard for human need, potential, and satisfaction (pp. 17-18).”
    • “Leadership within this new kind of supervision was to be neither directive nor patronizing, but instead, supportive (p. 18).”
    • “Sensing negative assumptions and expectations, teachers are likely to respond in a negative way. This is an example of the self-fulfilling prophecy (p. 19).”
    • “Instead of focusing on creating happy teachers as a means to gain productive cooperation, the new supervision emphasis is on creating the conditions of successful work as a means of increasing one’s satisfaction and self-esteem (p. 19).”
  • Human Relations and Human Resources Supervision Compared

    • Human relations focuses on creating the environment for teacher happiness.
    • Human resources focuses on end results because achievements result in feelings of accomplishment.
  • Revisiting the Supervisors


Chapter 2: Sources of Authority for Supervisory Leadership

  • Introduction

    • The authors view supervisors as positions of power. They believe that their purpose is to get others to change their behavior. They use words like, “get people to change,” “compliance,” or “require.”
  • Some Background

    • Supervision = leadership
    • “‘Authority’ refers to power that is used to influence how teachers think and what strategy rests on the match that exists between the source of authority that the supervisor relies upon and the specifics that define the situation at hand (p. 25).”
  • The Sources of Authority

    • Bureaucratic: punishment, compliance, mandates “When supervisory policies and practices are based on bureaucratic authority, teachers are expected to respond appropriately or face the consequences (p. 25).”
    • Personal: Involved decision-making, rewards, incentives “When supervisory policies and practices are based on personal authority, teachers are expected to respond to the supervisor’s personality, to the pleasant environment provided, and to incentives for positive behavior (p. 25).”
    • Professional: “When supervisory policies and practices are based on professional authority, teachers are expected to respond to common socialization, accepted tenets of practice, and internalized expertise (pp. 25-26).”
    • Moral: “When supervisory policies and practices are based on moral authority, teachers are expected to respond to obligations and shared commitments and to the interdependence that comes from these shared commitments (p. 26).”
    • Research, too, plays a role, but is viewed less as a script to be followed and more as a series of revelations that can inform the shared decision-making process (p. 27).”
  • Bureaucratic Authority

    • Assumptions:

      • “Teachers are subordinates in a hierarchically arranged system.
      • Supervisors are trustworthy, but you can’t trust subordinates very much.
      • The goals and interests of teachers and those of supervisors are not he same; thus, supervisors must be watchful.
      • Hierarchy equals expertise; thus, supervisors know more about everything than do ordinary teachers.
      • External accountability works best (p. 27).”
    • Strategies:

      • “expect and inspect”
      • Leader identifies needs and then determines intervention.
      • Emphasis and reliance on standards
    • Impact:

      • Teachers become detached.
      • Loss of motivation
      • “Supervision becomes a direct, intense, and often exhausting activity as a result (p. 28).”
  • Personal Authority

    • Assumptions:

      • “The goals and interests of teachers and supervisors are not the same. As a result, each must barter with the other so that both get what they want by giving something that the other party wants.
      • Teachers have needs; if these needs are met, the work gets done as required in exchange.
      • Congenial relationships and harmonious interpersonal climates make teachers content, easier to work with, and more apt to cooperate.
      • Supervisors must be experts at reading the needs of teachers and handling people in order to barter successfully for increased compliance and performance (pp. 28 – 29).”
    • Strategies:

      • Trading
      • “The strategy is to obtain compliance by trading psychological payoffs of one sort or another (p. 29).”
      • Congeniality but not collegiality
      • “The emphasis is less on meeting teachers’ social needs and more on providing the conditions of work that allow people to meet needs for achievement, challenge, responsibility, autonomy, and esteem – the presumed reasons for finding deep fulfillment in one’s job (p. 29).”
      • Human resources
    • Impact:

      • Inspect – Extrinsic motivation
      • Teachers behave because of requirements
      • “Teachers become involved in their work for calculated reasons, and their performance becomes increasingly narrowed (p. 29).”
  • “We believe there is ample evidence for the position that personal and bureaucratic sources of authority should do no more than provide support for a supervisory practice that relies on professional and moral authority. The reasons, we argue here and elsewhere in this book, are that psychologically based leadership and supervision cannot tap the full range and depth of human capacity and will. This source of authority cannot elicit the kind of motivated and spirited response from teachers that will allow schools to work well (pp. 29-30).”
  • Professional Authority         

    • With professional authority, teachers are viewed as professionals who must be able to reflect on their practice in order to construct knowledge about the practice in an everyday context.
    • Assumptions:

      • “Teaching and learning contexts are different; thus, no one best way to practice exists.
      • ‘Scientific knowledge’ and ‘professional knowledge’ are also different; professional knowledge is created as teachers practice.
      • The purpose of scientific knowledge is to inform, not prescribe, the practice of teachers and supervisors.
      • Professional authority is not external but is exercised within the teaching context and from within the teacher.
      • Authority in context comes from the teacher’s training and experience.
      • Authority from within comes from the teacher’s professional socialization and internalized knowledge and values (p. 32).”
    • Strategies:

      • “Supervisory practice that is based primarily on professional authority seeks to promote a dialogue among teachers that makes explicit professional values and accepted tenets of practice (p. 32).”
    • Impact:

      • “Professional virtue speaks to the norms that define what it means to be a professional (p. 32).”
      • Accountability in professional authority is internalized in that peers hold one another accountable.
  • Moral Authority

    • Assumptions:

      • “Moral authority is derived from the obligations and duties that teachers feel as a result of their connection to widely shared community values, assumptions, ideas, research frameworks, and ideals. When moral authority is in place, teachers respond to shared commitments and felt interdependence by creating communities of practice. And schools too take on the characteristics of communities (p. 32).”
      • Moral authority exists only within a community.
    • Like professional authority, accountability in moral authority is internalized.
  • Leading With Ideas

    • “Teachers create norms of accountability when they function as communities of practice that help each other, share student work, plan lessons together, and share the results. Further, they are committed to the idea that what they know and what they learn must be shared with others if it is to serve the common good (p. 33).”
  • Accountability Writ Large
  • Instructional Coherence

    • Is it possible to reach instructional coherence in a PDS? How would Sergiovanni’s notions of supervision translate into preservice development? What elements do we have in PDS?
    • Newmann, F. M., Smith, B., Allensworth, E., & Bryk, A. S. (2001). Instructional program coherence: What it is and why it should guide school improvement policy. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23(4), p. 297.
    • The continuum:

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  • ESSPAR: Ideas in Action
  • Distributed Accountability

    • “They create a climate of responsibility that stretches from an individual teacher in his or her classroom in a given school all the way to the central office (p. 39).”
    • The collective IQ: “An important challenge for supervision is to aggregate what teachers know, thus enlarging school intelligence and increasing the school’s capacity to improve (p. 39).”
    • Instructional coherence creates distributed accountability.
    • Why it works – Sergiovanni’s argument: “…a decentralized commitment to a basic principle of empowerment – teachers and others are encouraged to do what they think is right provided that what hey do embodies the values and purposes that are shared, serves the common good, and strengthens the character of teaching and learning (p. 40).”
  • Trust First

    • Increase in trust = increase in collegiality
    • Trust does not equal agreement, but it does mean collaboration.
    • “Together, trust and collegiality immunize schools from the negative effects of disengagement and lack of commitment to what he school or school district is about and is trying to accomplish (p. 41).”
  • Supervision II

Supervision I

Supervision II









Focus on behavior

Focus on action

Formal, institutionalized

Focus on role and function

Done only by higher authority

Done by principals and teachers

Teaching and learning as behavior

Teaching and learning as action


Intrinsic, moral motivation


Common good



Chapter 3: Supervising the Learning Community

  • Introduction
  • Some Background

    • “Community in the postmodern world is a much more fluid, pragmatically constructed, multidimensional phenomenon. Postmodern communities are constituted by their diversity, find enrichment through pluralism, engage members in pragmatic process of self-government that promote both personal growth and at least minimal community commitment as inescapably mutually interdependent responsibilities (p. 55).”
  • Linking Community to Learning: Community for Learning

    • “In other words, students use their lifeworlds, their everyday worlds outside of school, as the interpretive landscape for what they are learning in school, as well as normative sources for classroom behavior (p. 56).”
  • Community as Curriculum

    • Schools should include a curriculum of community: “This curriculum recognizes that community has to be actively constructed everyday by the members of that community, for the agreements of today may sow the disagreements of tomorrow (p. 58).”
    • “In a community, individuals learn the very basic disposition to being a social human being in sharing the experiences of everyday life (p. 58).”
    • A curriculum of community means having adults who care and show that care to students. It entails having a sense of responsibility.
    • “Supervisors, for example, need to be clear about what they are doing to further the sense of community in their schools (p. 59).”
  • The Learning Community of Teachers

    • Belonging to a learning community means making your practice public.
  • The Learning Process in a Learning Community

    • The birth of reflective practice was a result of these poor andragogical practices: “In the past, the model for teacher learning was based on the assumption of the need for some external stimulus, such as required reading of a journal essay, a presentation by an outside expert, a graduate course at a nearby university, attendance at a seminar or workshop outside the district. Teacher learning was often tied to professional development or in-service activities, frequently chosen by administrators. This deficit model of learning assumed that the teacher would be exposed to new ideas and then encouraged to try out the new ideas in the classroom. While some of this external stimulation or guidance may still be necessary, the emerging understanding of teacher learning places learning much closer to the daily practice in the classroom (pp. 60-61).”
  • Primary and Secondary Reflective Practice

    • Primary reflective practice occurs in the moment. Secondary reflective practice occurs outside the moment usually before or after.
    • “Primary reflective practice is a dynamic dialogue between the guiding ideas and hunches of the teacher and the actions of teaching; the actions modify as well as express the ideas, and the ideas illuminate both the positive and negative outcomes of the teaching activity (p. 61).”
    • “Reflective practice begins by being alert to what one is attempting to teach, how one is actively engaging the students through instructional activity, how students are responding to this instructional activity, and whether it is enabling them to perform the desired learning (p. 62).” (MY THOUGHTS – try substituting supervision and its practices in there… Reflective practice begins by being alert to what one is attempting to teach, how one is actively engaging the INTERNS through SUPERVISORY activity, how INTERNS are responding to this SUPERVISORY activity, and whether it is enabling them to perform the desired learning. Hmmm….) (MY QUESTIONS – How does this quotation occur with hybrids who are not actually teaching but rather are observing and reflecting on the teaching? How does that reflection differ from evaluation? What would the defining differences be? Does reflection occur through evaluation? Could I argue that through observation and evaluation one is reflecting on the experience and deciding what works and doesn’t work? However, you’d have to be aware of on what grounds these judgments are being made. Are they sound? Are then sound evaluations/judgments a product of reflective practice?)
    • “Their sharing of secondary reflective practice with other teachers will begin to affect their primary reflective practice, in their ability to be self-critical of instructional activity that doesn’t work, and in their ability to imagine and enact other instructional protocols that are more successful in promoting student learning (p. 62).” (MY QUESTIONS - How does the hybrid role promote secondary reflective practice?)
    • “This sharing in secondary reflective practice helps all the teachers make what is tacit knowledge explicit knowledge, enables them to name the practices that work and know why as well as to name the practices that do not (always) work and know why. Making that knowledge more explicit enables teachers to use that knowledge more intentionally in their practice (p. 62).”
    • “Even though professionals have to master a core body of knowledge – usually in university-based degree programs – the problems and issues they encounter in the practice of their profession have a unique and complex mix of variables for which their university courses did not prepare them (p. 63).” (MY QUESTIONS – How does the hybrid role in a PDS support this process collaboratively rather than leaving the teacher or hybrid) to do it alone?)
    • “One important aspect of reflective practice the supervisor should continually attempt to advance is the teachers’ ability to name the causes of the problems they are trying to understand, and to say why their responses to the problem are working or not working (p. 63).”
    • (MY THOUGHTS – Where is the supervisor’s reflective practice?!?)
  • Building a Learning Community
  • Summary

Reflections on Chapter 3:

            In this chapter the authors focus on how the supervisor’s role involves building, supporting, and sustaining the learning community both with regard to its presence in the curriculum and as a component of the building climate. The learning community removes former inauthentic practices of professional development, which used a deficit approach to learning, and instead places the teachers’ learning at the heart of professional development experiences. The supervisor’s role is to (1) understand the importance and need for such a learning community and (2) create that community both for teachers and for students. In order to create the learning community, the supervisor must be aware of the types of reflective practice that happen in order for learning to occur.

            The two types cited are primary and secondary reflective practice. Primary reflective practice occurs in the moment; secondary reflective practice occurs outside the moment. Regardless of the when the reflection occurs, both of these practices are introspective meaning that they are done by the teacher to him or herself. Primary reflective practice has limitations in that the teacher as the primary reflector is limited by his/her knowledge and reflective abilities. The same could also be true for secondary reflective practice if it too occurs independently. However, secondary reflective practice can occur collegially. When such a practice occurs, the limitations exceed that of the individual and become the limitation of the group’s knowledge and reflective abilities.

Sergiovanni & Starratt show that these reflective practices are filtered through the teacher’s lens even when they engage in collegial secondary practices. When teachers engage in collegial secondary reflective practices, they bring the issues and concerns to their peers, but they still are the primary witnesses and the filter through which the data is brought to the group. Having this taint on the data is unavoidable when no third party is present in the moment to gather data and then engage in secondary reflective practices. Supervision can act as that neutralizing force of data gathering for secondary reflection.

The lens so far has been focused on teacher learning, but I want to adjust it more to focus on supervisor learning. It is very possible for a supervisor to engage in both primary and secondary reflective practice. When a supervisor is engaging supervisory practices, she can analyze, reflect, and adjust her supervisory practices. She can also engage in secondary reflective practice independently or by bringing her struggles and questions to a group. Our PDA meetings would be one example of a structure that supports collegial secondary reflection. These reflective practices contribute to the supervisor’s learning. (Note to self: By learning I also could mean growth and development.)

So far it has been argued that primary and secondary reflective practices are introspective processes that promote either teacher or supervisor learning, but I am wondering if there isn’t a third level of reflection that occurs through observation. In this case, the reflection is not introspective – it is not done by the teacher engaged in the process – but rather it is done by the observer, a parallel party to the experience. During observation, the observer is constantly analyzing and reflecting on the practice. Right or wrong, she is essentially passing judgment on what she sees reorganizing the experience through her lens. Whether or not those evaluations are made public to the teacher are not the point of this paragraph, although I would argue that such statements are detrimental to the supervisory process for true supervision allows the teacher to derive her own conclusions, evaluations, and judgments about her own practice based on data. The supervisor’s role in that case is to act as a neutral object gathering data. Regardless of all attempts to be neutral, it is impossible to eliminate all judgment from the observer’s mind. (Side note: I think there’s a connection her to my study with Jim on supervisor decision-making). Therefore by watching another individual’s practice, analyzing it in the moment, and reflecting on it, is the supervisor engaging in primary reflection? I think I would argue no as I have defined primary reflective practice to be done by the active party. The observer is not the actor; she is the observer, witness to the practice, but nonetheless she is engaging in reflective practice. If these thoughts stand true, could there then be such a construct of tertiary reflective practice meaning the reflective practice that occurs when one observes another? Hybrids have mentioned this. They talk about observing other teachers and taking ideas back with them. This “taking of ideas” is a pseudonym for reflecting on another’s practice. When watching someone else teach whether it is a peer or an intern, the hybrid decides for herself if she likes the practice enough to incorporate it into her repertoire. She is therefore evaluating and placing judgment on what she sees as being effective or ineffective; she is engaging in tertiary reflective practices.

If such a concept exists, I think it has explanations for hybrid’s learning and supervisor development. If these experiences become discrepant events or critical incidences, then they are indicators of transformational learning.

This chapter was devoted to the learning community and the supervisor’s role in the learning community. The authors discuss this role as one of fostering and supporting the learning community, but they neglected a key component – the supervisor’s learning in the learning community and the process through which the supervisor engages in reflective practice. Here opens an opportunity for me to contribute my thoughts on supervisor learning and supervisor reflective practice.

Some questions for further thought:

How does that reflection differ from evaluation? What would the defining differences be? Does reflection occur through evaluation? Could I argue that through observation and evaluation one is reflecting on the experience and deciding what works and doesn’t work? However, you’d have to be aware of on what grounds these judgments are being made. Are they sound? Are then sound evaluations/judgments a product of reflective practice?)