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Education is a unique work environment in that teachers may be independent and participate in supervisory conferences, but in reality the education workplace is very similar to other workplaces. As with education, two types of supervisory conferences or evaluations are held between supervisor and employee, formative and summative. Within these evaluations, there are five different types of conferences that, depending on the type of evaluation the supervisor is conducting, can be given. These conferences are; a pre-conference, a post-conference, a goal-setting conference, a confrontational conference, and a follow-up conference.
The formative evaluations purpose is to foster growth, with the focus on teaching and learning (Glickman, Gordon, Ross-Gordon, 2014). There is no need for a preconceived plan when conducting formative evaluation, the only requirement is a pre- and post-conference evaluations. When conducting a pre-conference a plan is developed as to how the evaluation will be conducted. The administrator explains their expectations and the process is presented “as a positive step for support and growth” (Capital Education LLC, 2017). The pre-conference lays out the plan and expectations but this is where the administrator and the teacher start to build a positive working relationship. The pre-conference also allows the administrator to give feedback to the teacher if they notice that the teacher needs more training (Capital Education LLC, 2017).
The post-conference critical in the formative evaluation process as it takes place immediately after the administrator observes the teacher within their classroom. The purpose of this conference is to confer as to what happened within the classroom, were goals met that were set during the pre-conference, what was observed and to assist the teacher going forward as well as to point out any deficiencies or inappropriate teacher behavior (Capital Education LLC, 2017). When conducting a post-conference the meeting between supervisor and teacher, the supervisor must be aware that this can be a time when the supervisor/teacher relationship can either become positive or negative. Trust between the supervisor and the teacher can be destroyed teacher if the administrator appears to be hypercritical; therefore, post-conferences should be “approached only from a positive perspective” (Capital Education LLC, 2017). Frustration and fear can also come about during the post-conference, therefore, “if at any time during the post-conference, the administrator observes the teacher becoming frustrated or defensive the conference should be concluded immediately and every effort should be made to rebuild trust and confidence” (Capital Education LLC, 2017).
A conference used by administrators that can be used in either formative or summative evaluations is called a Goal-Setting Conference. Goals can be set during a formative post-conference meeting; whereas, in a summative evaluation goals can be made to make performance-based goals (Capital Education LLC, 2017). In a goal setting conference the teacher comes with the expectations that the supervisor will have performance goals set out for meeting. A goal-setting conference should contain the following elements:
- Clear, concise description of the desired teacher performance
- Description of what is expected of the teacher before completing the target performance
- Description of what is expected of the principal before the teacher completes the target performance
- Plan detailing how the target performance should be demonstrated
- Plan detailing how the target performance will be observed
- Written standards describing satisfactory performance
- Projected time lines for demonstrating satisfactory performance (Capital Education LLC, 2017).
- When the teacher trusts the administrator and the two have built a positive relationship with each other, goal-setting conferences can be a positive experience. If the two do not have a positive working relationship, the teacher will not follow through with the proposed actions for any length of time (Capital Education LLC, 2017).
A confrontational conference happens when the administrator notices immediate change in actions and “when a teacher’s behavior needs to be changed immediately, behaviors are disruptive to school or harmful to students, diplomatic approaches are no longer considered useful, or a situation demands immediate action” (Capital Education LLC, 2017). Administrators should be aware that confrontational conferences are emotional, therefore the administrator should keep to the facts and make the meeting short and concise. The administrator but be objective and focus on the negative impact the behavior caused. The supervisor, when conducting the conference must be state the problem with the behavior, the consequence it caused, explain to the teacher why the behavior was improper, and then conduct a follow up plan to change the behavior (Capital Education LLC, 2017). The supervisor needs to also be mindful of justifications or excuses and instead focus on the change of behavior that needs to take place.
The follow-up conference is utilized to “achieve accountability on all levels, provide positive feedback for performance, provide and necessary guidance for additional change, and maintain ongoing collegiality” (Capital Education LLC, 2017). These conferences can be done within both formative and summative evaluations. These types of conferences are often missed because of time-restrains and therefore the values of them is missed by the teacher. Follow up conferences are also vital to long-term change as long as the administrator is open and honest about the changes and expected performance.
Nondirective supervision take place when the administrator knows “an individual teacher knows best what instructional changes need to be made and has the ability to think and act on his or her own” (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2014). An administrator follows a nondirective approach when they feel the teacher can solve their own problems with minimal support. An administrator acts more of a sounding board and helps the teacher think through the issue(s) they may have and what will they do to solve said problems. During a pre-conference is when you would employ this type of supervisory approach. This is the time when you allow the teacher to include any expectations and what they look like and ask the teacher questions to “flesh out” any unclear or incomplete plans they may have in helping them achieve their goals.
Effective evaluations happen because of the conferences that take place between an administrator and a teacher. During these evaluations, formal and summative, and the five conferences that can take place to support these evaluations, is where a positive working relationship between teacher and administrator can take place. During a summative evaluation, goal-setting conferences and a follow up conference take place. If a negative behavior is observed during the summative evaluation an administrator may conduct a confrontational conference in order to correct the behavior. During formative evaluation, a pre-conference, post-conference, and a follow-up conference need to be held. If a teacher is high functioning and the supervisor feels as though the teacher can solve their own problems with limited support, the administrator can use a nondirective approach. This nondirective approach is more effective during the summative evaluation during the pre-conference. Conferences are vital no matter the type of evaluation being used as they are conducted to support the evaluation of teachers.
- Capital Education LLC. (2017, May). ALDR 506 Reading 2.2: Nondirective supervision. Retrieved from https://virtualcampus.instructure.com/courses/2799/pages/reading-2-dot-2-nondirective-supervision
- Glickman, C. D., Gordon, S. P., & Ross-Gordon, J. M. (2014). Supervision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
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