Teacher supervision is an educational practice which focuses on the interactions between supervisors (school principals, department chairs and other supervisory professionals) and teachers aimed at improving school performance and enhancing teachers' professional skills and abilities.
Supervision of instruction began as an external inspection of both teachers and students in colonial New England and emerged as a formal activity in the late 1830s after the establishment of common schools. Initially, superintendents were appointed to inspect whether teachers were teaching the prescribed curriculum and whether students were learning their lessons. As school systems grew more complex, the role of superintendents was delegated to the school principal.
In the early 20th century the movement toward scientific management in public administration influenced school practices, which together with the development of curriculums, focused on experience and students' needs, widened the gap between supervision as a rigid, scientific approach to teaching and as a flexible dialogue between supervisors and teachers. In the latter part of the 20th century clinical supervision, developed by Harvard University professors Morris Cogan and Robert Anderson, was the prevailing supervisory method combining objective observation of classroom performance with collegial coaching, planning and inquiry-based study of students' results.
In the second half of the 20th century the supervisory process was influenced by curriculum reforms, inspired by the 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite and the increased educational focus on science and math. Research on the psychology of learning also influenced educational theories and practice, resulting in the effective teaching model of American educator Madeline Hunter, which was widely adopted throughout US schools in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, clinical supervision proved a time-consuming and work-intensive process leading to...