Theories Of Educational Supervision


Educational supervision -- also known as educational leadership or management -- is a complex topic. School systems around the world subscribe to a number of different theories or models of educational management. The type of management model used depends upon the mores of the community, the personalities of the staff, and the needs of the school.


  • An ambiguous approach to educational supervision lacks clarity concerning the goals of the institution. The operation of the school is inconsistent. Under this theory of management, teachers work independently. This theory emphasizes the unpredictability of organizations. The goals and objectives are set by sub-groups within the school. Each grade level or subject department determines its own mission. The benefit of this type of structuring is that if one subsection of the organization fails, the rest can still run smoothly. The downside is the lack of continuity of processes and procedures.


  • Collegial theories of education management support the notion of shared power within the organization. Members of the organization engage in discussion in order to reach consensus when making decisions. Teachers work collaboratively under this model of supervision. This model requires participation from all stakeholders in the school. One of the drawbacks to collegial theory is that the decision making process can be slow and complicated. One benefit of this model is the involvement of stakeholders at all levels, connecting them to the welfare of the institution.


  • Cultural theories of school management focus on beliefs, mores, and values of the individuals in the organization. This model is of benefit to religious education organizations. Difficulties arise when there are a variety of cultures present in the school, but the supervision model emphasizes one culture over the others.


  • Formal theories of leadership organize schools around hierarchical systems. In these systems, teachers are accountable to department chairpersons, the chairs are responsible to the principal, the principal is accountable to his administrators, and the administrators are responsible to the school board and director of schools. However, formal models of management typically fail to recognize the contributions of individuals.


  • In political management theory, decision making involves negotiation. Power may be held by coalitions rather than the formal leadership. These models tend to focus on the needs and activities of the groups rather than the organization as a whole. Power under these models is associated with the control of rewards and resources.


  • Subjective theories of management revolve around the perceptions of individuals within the organization rather than the role of the institution itself. These models treat structure as resulting from human interaction instead of being a permanent thing. Individuals and their goals are primary to organizational objectives. This type of leadership is ideological rather than practical.


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