Adult and Teacher Development

Glickman, C. D., Gordon, S. P., Ross-Gordon, J. M. (2001). Supervision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Chapter 4: Adult and Teacher Development within the Context of the School: Clues for Supervisory Practice

Adults as Learners

  • Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence

    • “Crystallized intelligence is more heavily influenced by education and experience. It is assessed by untimed measures calling for judgment, knowledge, and experience. This kind of intelligence seems to remain stable or show improvement as people age (p. 57).”
    • “Hence, older teachers are better able to rely on their learning assets when allowed to draw on experience than when asked to respond quickly to a novel situation. One implication for supervision is that experienced teachers are more likely to understand and utilize curricular and instructional innovations if the innovations can be linked to their past teaching experience and current expertise (p. 57).”
  • Contemporary Theories of Intelligence

    • Experience differentiates novices from experts. Since the two are different, they require different types of supervision. (Question: What are the “types” of supervision? How do we differentiate?)
  • Experiential Learning and Situated Cognition

    • Teacher learning occurs in environments which include collaboration, collegiality, shared power and authority (opportunities for teacher leadership), variation and change, choice, shared vision, lifelong learning that applies to their work, and access to professional development opportunities.
  • Theories of Adult Learning

    • Malcolm Knowles’s Theory of Andragogy
  • Teachers as Adult Learners

    • Innovations tend to fail because of a lack of time to implement and support during implementation.
    • Supervision needs to be differentiated based on the teacher’s current needs, readiness, and cognitive levels.

Adult and Teacher Development

  • According to development theory, adult development is universal and progresses linearly through either stages or by coordinating with life cycles.
  • Stage Theories of Adult and Teacher Development

    • (MY THOUGHTS – What if it isn’t about an either/or but rather the fact that learning occurs in developmental stages by means of sociocultural learning experiences?)
    • Cognitive Development

      • Piaget’s stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational
    • Conceptual Development

      • “High-concept teachers rate higher on what are generally considered to be more positive characteristics (such as warmth, perceptiveness, empathy, flexibility, ingenuity, task effectiveness, smoothness, and consistency) and low-concept teachers rate higher on more educationally negative characteristics (such as rule orientation, punitiveness, and anxiety) (Harvey, White, Prather, Alter and Hoffmeister, 1966; Heck and Davis, 1973) (pp. 65-66).”
      • (MY THOUGHTS – Could there be such a thing as high concept supervisors and low concept supervisors?)
    • Moral Development

      • “Teachers with higher moral development scores considered students’ perspectives to be important, though teachers should encourage students to express their feelings and perceived needs, and believed the teacher should foster cooperative student decision making (p. 67).”
      • “Teachers with the highest scores on moral reasoning considered students’ perspectives and the complex, continuous nature of learning while resisting classifying students as on task or off task based solely on behavioral observation (p. 67).”
    • Ego Development

      • Teachers who are at higher levels recognize the complex nature of teaching and use data to analyze their practice. They are able to cope with this complexity.
      • Ego can be developed through perspective-taking activities and activities that raise conflict.
    • Levels of Consciousness

      • Kegan (1994):

        • Childhood = magical or egocentric stage
        • Young adult = durable
        • Advanced adult = cross-categorical consciousness, systems-consciousness, trans-systems consciousness
        • To progress from young adult to advanced adult requires abstract thought.
      • “Only with the transition from cross-categorical to systems consciousness, however, does the individual move beyond defining himself or herself in terms of those duties, devotions, and values to become a truly independent and autonomous person. At this level we can look objectively at our own perspective, compare it with that of others, and work to reconcile differences (p. 69).”
      • “Dialectical thinking is associated with this level of consciousness (trans-systems consciousness), said to be rare before midlife (p. 69).”


See Images and Attachments

  • Integrating Stage Developmental Theories

    • (Is that why some teachers leave? Because the system simplifies teaching and therefore frustrates the higher ordered thinking individual?)
    • “The problem with the need for high-stage teachers is that, although the work by its nature demands autonomous and flexible thinking, teachers in most schools are not supported in ways to improve their thinking (p. 71).”
    • Professional development needs to be focused on improving thinking (implication for the hybrid role).
    • (So what is it about the work environment in the PDS that fosters higher order thinking?)
    • Occupational self-direction and complex environment are key features.
    • Dialogue, reflection, and challenge are key features.
    • Collaboration, observing others, inquiry (they call it breaking routine to experiment. I would argue it is inquiry) are also key features.
    • Critical reflection leads to self-assessment.
  • Life Cycle Development. Teacher’s Life Cycles, and the Teaching Career

    • The structures of schooling are constraining and are in opposition to the adult life cycle. When a young adult should be vibrant and full of energy, she finds herself in a position that is repetitious and restraining.
    • (MY WONDERINGS - How does the PDS with its opportunities for hybrids coincide with the natural life cycle?)
  • Transition Events

    • These are another perspective of adult development. This developmental theory claims that stage boundaries are not as easily delineated as prescribed and instead it is transition events that characterize the development.
    • Transition events are life events, critical events, or marker events that impact the person’s development.
    • Life events

      • Normative age-graded events (marriage, child birth, widowhood, etc) events that are normal/expected at certain ages in life
      • Normative history-graded events (WWII, the Depression, 911, etc) Major historical events that impact many people.
      • Nonnormative events (divorce, unemployment, etc) events that are part of life but not expected or anticipated
    • All of these events are critical opportunities for growth and change.
    • Educators of adults need to be aware of both personal and professional transition events.
  • Role Development

    • Supervision needs to address the whole teacher, thus being aware of the personal, familial, and professional roles in which they engage and interact on a daily basis.
  • The Role of Gender in Adult Development

    • Adult learners are diverse. Theories may not be universal since some students have failed to account for differences in gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
  • Review of Adult/Teacher Development Models

Developmental Theories of Motivation and Teacher Development

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: Physiological needs è Safety è Belonging and love è Esteem è Self-actualization
  • “This (choice) is the critical area in which a teacher can choose either to remain minimally competent or to grow in new ways. The choice becomes available when hygiene factors and lower-stage needs have been met and when there is encouragement to go beyond competence by providing a sense of achievement, responsibility, recognition, and advancement so that teachers can choose to improve their instruction (p. 84).”

Development: Ebb and Flow

  • They choose the focus of their energies: “Suffice it to say that teachers, like all humans, are not static in their levels of thinking and motivation about all endeavors (p. 86).”
  • Change can cause a developmental regression, albeit temporary but still a regression.
  • “Teacher or adult development is not monolithic, linear, or eternal. The research on developmental stages provides lenses for viewing teachers individually and collectively as to their current levels of thinking and motivation about instructional improvement (p. 86).”

Influences on Teacher Development

  • “Supervisor must be able to choose those skills and techniques that will enable teachers to develop individually and collectively to create a cause beyond oneself. A commitment to that cause is essential for school success (p. 87).”
  • “Research on adults has demonstrated that teachers can become more motivated and more thoughtful about their work. Every person has the potential to improve: Such potential might be blocked, slowed down, or even reversed, but it still exists (p. 87).”


  • “On the other hand, the text has shown that if teachers are provided with an appropriate environment and effective supervision, they can attain high levels of personal and professional development (p. 88).”
  • Propositions for supervision:

    • “Effective supervision responds to the principles of adult learning (p. 88).”
    • “Effective supervision responds to and fosters teachers’ stage development (p. 89).”
    • “Effective supervision recognizes and supports different phases within teachers’ life cycles (p. 89).”
    • “Effective supervision helps teachers to understand, navigate, and learn from life transition events (p. 89).”
    • “Effective supervision recognizes and accommodates teachers’ various roles (p. 89).”
    • “Effective administration and supervision foster teacher motivation (p. 89).”