Date of Award

8-2009

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Sarah Mackenzie

Second Committee Member

Dianne Hoff

Third Committee Member

Janet Fairman

Additional Committee Members

George Marnik

Edward Jadallah

Abstract

Schools recognize the importance of implementing differentiated systems of supervision in order to meet teachers' developmental needs. New and at risk teachers are often offered high levels of support. Veteran teachers generally have less oversight of their practice because principals have instituted self-directed supervision plans whereby veteran teachers develop goals and professional growth plans and monitor their own progress toward goal achievement. Therefore, veteran teachers receive limited attention from their principals who spend little time visiting their classrooms or engaging them in professional conversation (Whitaker, 2003). This limited attention can lead to isolation and the disenfranchisement of those valuable teachers.

The walk-through approach to supervision has the potential to enhance schools' supervision plans through frequent classrooms visits and feedback conversations. This mixed-method study explored the enactment of walk-throughs in two Maine elementary schools and the impact of walk-throughs on the higher level needs for attention, recognition, feelings of success, and professional growth for teachers at various levels of the Teacher Career Cycle, especially those experienced teachers in the Competency Building and Enthusiastic and Growing stages (Fessler & Christensen, 1992). Data collection for this study included teacher surveys, teacher and principal interviews, and observations. Data analysis examined the impact of the walk-throughs and feedback conversations on teachers' higher level needs.

The study found principals enacting two types of walk-throughs at each school, a formal walk-through that required time to plan and provide feedback, and an informal walk-through that required little planning and informal, verbal feedback. Because formal walk-throughs were time consuming to organize they were not frequently enacted. However, informal walk-throughs and feedback conversations were enacted in each school on a regular basis, met teachers' higher level needs, and promoted professional growth for involved teachers.

This study adds to the existing literature on supervision suggesting a manageable approach to formative supervision. Walk-throughs have the potential to provide an approach to supervision that increases principal awareness, provides legitimate and helpful feedback, meets teachers' higher level needs, and promotes the professional growth of teachers in all career stages, especially those in the Competency Building and Growing and Enthusiastic stages.

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