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Carl Anderson

Here is an idea:

1. Get rid of offices for administrators.
2. Require all important school data be either stored in an administrative library or digitized.
3. The principal's office becomes the wireless laptop.
4. An administrative conference room could be created for making sensitive calls or conferencing with teachers, students, or parents about private information.
5. Require principals to spend a certain number of hours teaching to keep them connected with students and grounded in the profession. (Lets bring back the Principal Teacher)

Mark Stock

I can't say that I have found my principals in their offices very often. I used to keep track when I was superintendent on a little tally sheet. I tracked how many times the principal was out in the building when I called. I was always hoping they wouldn't answer the phone because I knew they were "out and about."

Michelle Wise Capen

This is not an uncommon occurance in my teaching experience even with exceptional principals. I have noticed that there are so many other critical demands on my principal's time - Title I plans, budget, student discipline, buses, parental concerns, IEP meetings - that curricular supervision is a luxury. I am curious as to why you would think that a principal is a better clinical supervisor than a good self-reflective teacher? I teach in an elementary school and my principal is in her first year after being an AP in a high school and many years as a PE teacher. I tihnk she is doing an excellent job, but her expertise is not in curriculum. We have a number of National Board Certified Teachers at our school and we are much more critical of our instruction than the principal is.

Addie Gaines

Missouri has a procedure for teacher evaluation that is state-mandated. I am required to do at least one scheduled and one unscheduled observation per year for non-tenured with the accompanying paperwork. Tenured teachers are only required to have this observation every three years. I choose to do an unscheduled observation on all teachers annually and I choose to use a walkthrough system. I have to complete a summative evaluation annually for all teachers.

The evaluation process is tied to Career Ladder for teachers that are tenured and to obtaining subsequent teaching certs past the initial teaching cert. Some MO districts use a portfolio evaluation process. I am not sure exactly how this works since I have never used it.

Teacher evaluation is alive and well in my neck of the woods.


When it was "alive" what did it accomplish? If the classic clinical supervision model is the primary source of influencing and supporting changes to instructional practice in ALL classrooms we are in for a long wait. We must find adaptive solutions to the need to create a reason for and then supporting teachers in this important work. One component of this work is the principal being visible and responsible for the creative tension necessary to begin this work. Another component needs to be distributing responsibility for this work to teachers. There are not enough principals to meet the need for support. Yes, principals need to be in classrooms, but they also need to be teaching the skill set so that others can engage in this effort. We need to shift from evaluation to true supervision.

Charlie A. Roy

In my neck of the woods I find more and more principals abandoning the clinical supervision model and adapting professional learning plans as a means for instructional improvement. The clinical supervision model and frequent walk throughs are used for teachers prior to reaching tenure.

I personally find it advantageous for principals to teach an elective here and there. Depending on your school's scheduling practices it can be more difficult. If you're in a Block schedule with 90 minute classes that is a big time commitment from the building principal.

The fault of the clinical model is it never provides a realistic view of what actually goes on. I've caught teachers sending trouble makers to the library before I come to observe. I even had students tell me that one teacher prepped them with the following instructions: raise your left hand if you know the answer and raise your right hand if you don't know the answer but whatever happens raise your hand.

Sue King

Yes - clinical supervision is 'alive and well,' though not in an ideal state. Does it lead to more effective instruction or even assist in developing reflective teaching practices? That would largely depend on the established culture in the district and there are too many variables that impact that to come up with a simple list of solutions (especially a list for how you "fix" the problems with principals - 1. Get rid of offices for administrators.
2. Require all important school data be either stored in an administrative library or digitized. - etc). There is quite a bit of research on effective school leadership - but context and culture are often left out of the discussion. Effective instruction should result in student learning - no matter where you teach, who you teach, and what the students bring to the classroom. Teachers should be able to clearly articulate what it is they want all students to learn and how they will know if they did or did not. The discussion between a teacher and a principal should revolve around that - however that is accomplished is really not what is most important. Some teachers view the role of a building administrator as the enforcer of rules for students and the one who runs interference between teachers and parents. That view is not supported by any research - the principal as an instructional leader is, however. Adding to the building administrators list of what they should be doing needs to be supported by what we know is most effective, not just by opinions. There is a considerable body of research regarding effective teaching practices. Evaluation of teachers should be based on this research and the process by which teachers are observed/evaluated can be designed around that research.

Alan Knobloch

I agree the real question should be are clinical observations effective and if so, who should be subjected to them.

I have found them effective for brand new teachers and teachers in need of improvement. However, to be effective, there must be a string of clinical observations focusing on specifics aspects of teaching. They are minimally effective for new teachers to the district. It helps me confirm the hiring decision.

For the vast majority of my teachers,singular clinical observations would be a waste of time and provide little if any professional growth. We have moved to teachers creating portfolios based on a set of teaching standards. The time I would have spent in their classroom is now spent talking with them about their portfolios and the standards.

A principal still needs to be visible and in the classrooms. It is unacceptable for a principal to never be in a classroom. I just returned from an hour of walk-through observations. It was a great hour for me and I saw some wonderful teaching.


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