Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership and Policies

Sub-Department

Educational Administration

First Advisor

Doyle Stevick

Abstract

This study explores principal-teacher collegiality in the context of walkthrough observations. Collegiality may enhance a positive school culture and thus support the development and ownership of shared goals among instructional leaders and teachers. Downey, Steffey, English, Frase, and Poston (2004) argue that walkthrough observations should be about co-workers working together. If they are correct, then walkthrough observations may be an effective supervisory practice to improve pedagogy and student achievement.

The author has constructed a model of walkthrough observations that is rooted in and founded upon the idea of collegiality. Specifically, this "Collegial Model" is contrasted with the Clinical Supervisory Approach to walkthrough observations, which was developed by Glickman, Gordon, and Ross-Gordon (2007).The model of collegiality in walkthrough observations has seven components: (a) a high level of trust and respect among the instructional leader and teachers; (b) the characteristics and attributes of instructional leadership; (c) a high level of collaboration and dialogue between teachers and administrators, as opposed to a formal, hierarchal relationship; (d) the resources and materials necessary to implement best practices; (e) extended observations, ideally thirty minutes, in contrast to a snapshot; (f) the presence and quality of immediate feedback provided by administrators, their dialogue, and subsequent reflection by teachers; (g) and the consistency of the walkthrough observational process the researcher's professional interpretation of teacher and administrator perceptions regarding the purpose of walkthrough observations, prior to the study.

The author suspects that a Collegial Model would be more effective than the traditional model. The author also suspects that a strong case could be made for adopting a Collegial Model that is rooted in ethical arguments. I write "suspects" here instead of "hypothesizes" because these aspects of the Collegial Model will not be tested directly. Although some traditional and experimental research designs could be brought to bear upon these issues, it is important to discuss briefly what this study is not. A comparative or experimental study could explore the relative effectiveness of these models, but I am not concerned exclusively with efficacy here. Studying what has not been fully implemented in practice is also problematic: how could one research an unimplemented approach's potential empirically? Further, normative questions of what should be done are not easily settled through straightforward empirical inquiry. A different approach is needed when questions of value come into play.

The seven-component model of collegiality designed here does have a normative element to it. Therefore focus on the three key issues. First, in a specific district, with its various constraints and restrictions, are elements of a more Collegial Model already in place in practice? I examine whether and how the seven components of the Collegial Model are in use. I do this through direct observation, interviews with instructional leaders, and teacher focus groups. Second, how is collegiality experienced in practice and how is it conceived in the thinking of teachers and administrators in six different schools and at three different levels in the same district? Third and finally, are teachers and administrators receptive to the seven components of a Collegial Model developed here for this study?

Together, these elements help to provide a portrait of the extent to which: a) the values of the model are valued and embraced in practice; b) the model is potentially implementable under the specific constraints of a particular district; and c) the extent to which collegiality is present and how it is experienced in the context of walkthrough observations. The insights garnered about the receptivity, moral stance, and practical workability provides a basis for revising the model.

The findings of the study indicate that administrators and teachers perceive walkthrough observations as the most effective form of supervision. Both groups believe that trust among the teacher and administrator is an important factor in collegial walkthrough observations. They also believe that administrators should support teachers by providing the resources and materials needed to implement best practices. For the most part, there seems to be a mutual respect between teachers and administrators when the relationship between the two is perceived as collegial. Both parties believe that immediate feedback and dialogue are important and necessary after walkthrough observations in order to improve teacher pedagogy. They also believe that the walkthrough observation process should be consistent for all teachers. Administrators and teachers believe that walkthrough observations should not be used as a formal supervisory tool. However, there is a discrepancy between the two groups regarding the duration of walkthrough observations.

Based on the findings of the study, the Collegial Model was revised to reflect time constraints for conducting walkthrough observations. The current duration of time provides a snapshot and given the time constraints, administrators believe that this snapshot is sufficient.

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