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Study Guide: Practice Perspective Essay

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Updated: May 5th, 2021

Why is setting clear high expectations at the beginning of the year so important?

In schools, as well as in many other places that have to deal with interpersonal communication and long-term planning, the problem of not following expectations is very sharp. For the most part, it arises from two issues (Whitaker 2012):

  • The inability to set plausible and achievable goals for students or employees.
  • The inability to actually voice one’s expectations for the others to follow.

These two are often interconnected. However, while the inability to set plausible and achievable goals often stems from a lack of understanding of the situation and working order, the latter has multiple reasons. Whitaker (2012) states that many principals see the list of goals and expectations towards teachers as something that “goes unsaid,” therefore should not be repeated a dozen times over at the start of every year. The teachers have the same attitude towards their students, believing that basic responsibilities and rules, such as doing homework, not causing commotion and mischief in class, paying attention, and bringing all the required books and utensils to class are common sense. Naturally, the inability to follow these goals and expectations causes conflicts and misunderstandings.

Whitaker (2012) identifies several reasons why setting clear and high expectations at the beginning of the year is important both to students and principals. First, it spells out all the major objectives for the year. These expectations could be referred to and used as a framework for both the teachers and the students. At the same time, since it is impossible to spell out everything, these expectations must be general enough to encompass every area of school life. The necessity of setting the bar high is also important, as strife for excellence is a necessary requirement for growth, both among teachers and students.

Lastly, as Whitaker (2012) accurately points out, the class and the teachers must associate their own, personal goals with the goals set by their superiors. If that is not present, then there will be no constructive work, no matter how noble and worthwhile these goals are. It is important not to waste time when setting up goals, as every year is like a new sheet – one has to start anew. It is a chance for correcting the mistakes made during last year and improve the situation for the better. If the moment is lost, then it is likely for people to revert to the patterns they used to have. These reactionary patterns are not always good or efficient.

Briefly, describe one of the Supervision Practices in Chapter 13 and explain how you could improve this type of practice in your school.

One of the most common supervision practices employed in school systems is called “Clinical Supervision.” This practice is tried by time and had been improved on by numerous researchers, such as Goldframe, Danielson, and Marzano (Sergiovanni, 2008). This practice in many cases assumes direct supervision over a teacher’s practice. It is separated into five logical steps that form the cycle of clinical supervision. These steps are (Sergiovanni, 2008):

  • Pre-observational conference. This stage is very important, as it is used to set up the framework for the incoming lesson, separation of roles, and familiarization with the class. It is considered a “rehearsal” of the lesson.
  • Observation of teaching. During this stage, the supervisor observes the teacher in action.
  • Analysis and strategy. During this stage, the teacher’s actions are analyzed, and a list of improvements and recommendations is assembled.
  • Post-observational conference. The results of the analysis are being discussed with the teacher, the list of improvements and solutions is being presented and discussed.
  • Post-conference analysis. During this stage, the supervisor must analyze their own actions and identify any errors and mistakes made.

Naturally, such an approach requires a lot of time and effort, as the principal does not always have the time to be present at a teacher’s lessons, nor is he or she ready to provide required recommendations at all times. This is especially true for larger schools, where there are thousands of students and hundreds of teachers. In our school, I propose that the role of supervisors would be given to other teachers. During windows in schedules, or for additional compensation, these teachers could be present during lessons and go through all five stages of clinical supervision, in order to improve educational practices in school as a whole. These super visionary practices do not have to be used on a daily basis. Several times a semester should be enough – that way there will not be any strain on the teachers and their schedules, meaning that clinical supervision practices can be harmoniously integrated into the current school system. The principle could take an active part in this, offering feedback and reviewing classes on their own, based either on reports or by personally getting involved in clinical supervision. Doing so would increase the level of interactivity between the principal, the teachers, and the students.

Select either Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory and explain in the context of Teacher Workplace Motivation and Commitment.

In modern education in regards to teacher workplace motivation and commitment, two theories reign supreme. Some researchers adapt Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to explain the motivating and demotivating factors that are important to the teacher at every stage of the pyramid, while Herzberg simply listed the major factors that affect workplace motivation and commitment the most, and split them into two groups.

Herzberg’s model is built around a “barter approach” to workplace commitment (Sergiovanni, 2008). It states that employers and subordinates have different goals in mind when approaching the same task. The barter happens when both parties trade each other’s goals to achieve theirs. Herzberg empathizes the importance of “fairness” in this transaction – motivation and commitment are earned when the efforts teachers put into work are rewarded in equal measure (Sergiovanni, 2008). The reward does have to be monetary, as nonmonetary rewards are valued in equal measure. They create a healthy working environment and contribute to the emotional perception of one’s workplace. Naturally, if one loathes, they job, they would never work hard on it, no matter how substantial the payment is. Herzberg splits factors into two groups – the hygiene factors, and the motivator factors. Hygiene factors are (Sergiovanni, 2008):

  • Salary
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Quality of supervision
  • Job security
  • Working conditions
  • Work/Life balance.

Motivator factors are (Sergiovanni, 2008):

  • Personal achievements
  • Status
  • Recognition
  • The ability to enjoy work
  • Responsibility
  • The ability for self-improvement and personal growth

It is possible to notice that these factors also can be attributed to different parts Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. However, while Maslow’s theory is a rather broad approach, Herzberg synthesizes the information and narrows the number of possible factors down to address motivational and commitment issues among the teachers. An important thing to note is that different factors suggest a different level of commitment. The concept of “Fair pay” suggests a correlation between effort put into one’s work and rewards. Following this concept would allow the school to perform adequately. In order to excel, however, teachers are required to exceed expectations, and that kind of motivation cannot be achieved by fair pay alone. This is when intrinsic rewards come into play (Sergiovanni, 2008).

No theory, however, is capable of offering an explanation to every teacher out there. Herzberg’s two-factor theory offers a blueprint that a principal can work with in order to identify the teachers’ needs and fulfill them in order to motivate them to be more productive and diligent in their work. However, every teacher is unique and has different motivations. Some may care about the paycheck more so than for personal encouragement, while others value interpersonal relationships with their coworkers and students more than the amount of money they receive. The trick is to find a personal approach to every teacher while maintaining certain standards applicable to all – just because a certain employee does not place as much value on monetary rewards than others does not mean that he or she are allowed to be paid less than others. Such a move would be viewed as exploitation in the eyes of other teachers, who would rise to defend their colleague. That would cause a massive morale drop and tarnish a principal’s reputation.

References

Sergiovanni, T.J. (2008). The principalship – a reflective practice perspective. New York, NY: Pearson.

Whitaker, T. (2012). Study guide – what great principals do differently. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

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