A good classroom teacher, promoted to district supervisor without previous in-service training, does not automatically become a good supervisor. Classroom teaching and supervision of a district are two separate, although allied, aspects in education.
A classroom teacher’s concern is generally confined to the classroom: the lesson plan(s), the daily schedule, the little classroom library if there is one, the board work, the visual aids on the wall, the collection of projects in a corner, a small table model, if there is room. In addition: cleanliness and neatness of the classroom, including the prevention of writings and/or sketches on the desks or chairs.
For a district supervisors to succeed, there is a need for in-service training in:
- Supervisor techniques
- Leadership skills
- Relations between supervisor and supervised
- Management planning
A good district supervisor must know all DepEd circulars, bulletins, administrative orders, and such other documents germane to her tasks.
She must be acquainted with her district: how many schools are under her supervision and where they are located; how many teachers are assigned to the district; the shortages, if any, of classrooms, teachers, textbooks; the estimated cost of real estate and ownership of the same; and accessibility to all schools in the district. Information on the above is a big background and not easy to assemble for her fact sheets. Fact sheets could be small cards or notebooks containing statistics that she consults when necessary. The statistics provide some clues toward certain ends.
To start the supervisory action, she remembers supervision is not snooper-vision, not sleuthing, not fault-finding. These are certain steps to unpopularity and unacceptability in teacher’s circles. Rather, supervision is a process of advising, directing, and helping teachers with the view of making the teaching-learning process easy for the teacher and fulfilling for the learner.
The initial supervisory visit of a new supervisor is largely exploratory to help her make a plan of action during the year. The visit, done quietly, the supervisor not passing through the backdoor, may start with a brief call on the head teacher or principal; followed by:
- A short meeting with teachers to get acquainted
- A walking confidence with the head teacher or principal to collect information on the equipment in the school plant; the security of public property; and
- An inquiry as to whether the community and the school cooperate in school affairs.
The visit may be concluded by another meeting with head teacher or principal on what the supervisor can do to help and what is expected of the head teacher or principal during the year. Plans will fill the supervisor’s mind; gratitude for the visit, teacher teachers’.
In the supervisor’s office is a wall chart indicating a series of follow-up visits: what school to visit, when, and for what specific objective(s). In the Apalit district, for example where there is an elementary school in every one of the 12 barangays, a general supervisory plan may focus on specific areas to look into.
School A. Pupils: accommodations, comfort, problems
School B. Educational trips: plans, funding, expected results
School C. Teachers: salaries, allowance, quarters of teachers no native of Apalit
School D. Textbooks and other instructional material, library
School E. Office machines, supplies
School F. School grounds: improvement projects including security and tree planting and disposal of disposable trash
School H. School-community projects, including funding and completion of targets
School I. PTAs: leadership and projects
School J. Athletics
School K. Special school days
School L. Large new construction: classrooms, shops, school fence
Technique is an art of doing things the easy way to produce desired result. The expected result of supervision is important; the way to get there is equally important. An end can be forced out using superior authority or the influence of position but the end is not palatable as it should be. Many teachers fear some supervisors for various reasons but few vocalize their feelings.
A supervisor avoids as much as possible barking orders to subordinates unless she wants to look like a modern tyrant. Calmly but firmly she suggests – her suggestion are only suggestive, not prescriptive. A soft suggestion is harder to resist, difficult to ignore. A sharp order invites resistance.
A leader of teachers stays in front leading them to a desired end. She does not stay behind pushing people.
A good supervisor is better informed. If her training is right, she has a built-in advantage over others. As she was a good classroom teacher not too long ago, she ought to know from practical experience what she says.
Although not to well known, many successful supervisor read professional books and magazines more than many of the teacher under her supervision. Like many successful classroom teachers, she works long hours during the day – conceptualizing ideas, planning details of implementation, and ways of evaluating results.
Leaders are not born; they are made.
A supervisor has to cultivate relations with various group: teachers, principals, fellow supervisors, superiors above her, and the general public. As a district know about this. And they appreciate it. She gives more than takes. The teacher in the district supervisors above her, and the general public. As a district supervisor, like the one in Apalit she is No. 1 teacher in 12 elementary schools.
As her relations are genuinely cordial, she occupies center stage without stealing the show. In a give-an-take situation, she gives more than she takes. The teacher in the district know about this. And they appreciate it. Although taller than her teachers, she does not look down upon them. She creates the atmosphere of team work, she as the playing captain.
A good supervisor, like a good teacher making lesson plans, makes detailed plans: objective, methodology, supervisory software like handouts, charts and diagrams, etc.
Planning precedes action. A supervisor visiting a school without a plan is one who takes chances and just spends valuable time – her and the teacher’s. There is a time for business and a time for pleasure.
A hunter has a target and sees the bulls eye. He aims and fires a round direct on course. Another hunter aims at a general direction and fires a shot gun – the pellets spreading in all directions except the bulls eye. A supervisor who carries a shotgun may hit something or none at all. She should change her weapons to a one-round-at-a-time weapon like a pistol. She has better chances of hitting the bulls eye.
Some specific questions in supervision may full under four categories:
1. Should a supervisor…
2. What a supervisor should not…
3. How a supervisor may…
4. Why the supervisor…
Brief answer to teach of the questions follow.
1. Should a visit be announced? Yes, especially if the objective is known. A surprise visit, although done very infrequently results in more harm than good.
2. Should teachers rehearse a lesson for the visit? If teachers do their best every day, a rehearsal in unnecessary. If rehearsals are done in a big school, and nobody knows what class the supervisor will see, there would be considerable unnatural activities. However, if one specific class would give a demonstration to show how well it is done, a rehearsal is advisable.
3. Should a supervisor provide a copy of her observations? Yes, especially if some suggestions for improvement in methods of teaching are given. Compliance with the suggestions will be checked during a subsequent visit.
4. What should a supervisor not do? There are many no-nos; among them
a. Do not pass through the backdoor like a theif.
b. Do not correct a teacher’s error in her pupils’ presence.
c. Do not be naughty.
d. Do not develop fear in the hearts of teachers
e. Do not accept any gift from teachers.
f. Do not expect teachers to give you a lavish lunch or merienda.
5. How should a supervisor handle
a. A teacher who did not comply with suggestions given during a previous visit? Try again.
b. How soon should follow-up be done? Give the teacher ample time.
c. A controversial matter – teachers in one school are divided as to what is right. Let all teachers express themselves freely, then make a decision based on good authority, especially on DepEd policy.
6. Why should a supervisor prepare a master plan for the semester or year?
a. Unplanned visits indicate perfunctory performance.
b. A plan focuses on objectives on a priority basis.
c. A plan is a good measuring instrument for success or failure.
Above is a short list of questions about supervision. There are many more but the questions above are sufficient to indicate that a supervisor is confronted by a multitude of questions.
So far, this discussion is about supervision in one district where there are only 12 schools. A division supervisor, as representative of the school superintendent, has more concerns than a district supervisor.
A regional supervisor covering a number of school divisions – thousands of teachers, hundred thousand pupils, many millions of pesos worth of equipment, shortfalls here, overages there, disciplinary problems in unexpected places, etc. To a supervisor, whether district or division or regional, the management of time is essential, if time is ill-managed, much of it is lost.
One aspect of supervision, not mentioned is that of private schools. In the Apalit district, for example, there are several; one academic high school; another, a high school offering technical courses (electronics and computer science); and the third, a nursery-to-kinder-to-elementary; and a fourth, a new elementary school.
How many are there in the division? How many in the region. The figures may overwhelm the imagination. The numbers emphasize the importance of supervision.
To conclude, it might be said that supervision is a life career; that the job challenges the best in supervisor, that good supervision from the district to the region is partly responsible for the quality of education. This leads us to the thesis of the article, i.e. a good classroom teacher does not become automatically a good supervisor. She needs considerable in-service on-the-job training.
Ricardo C. Galang, Ph.D