Supervision of Student Teachers: Objective Observation

By Neide, Joan | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, September 1996 | Go to article overview

Supervision of Student Teachers: Objective Observation


Neide, Joan, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


By keeping accurate records, supervisors can present concrete evidence - rather than subjective speculation - about the student teacher's classroom performance.

Student teaching can be the most effective preparation for becoming a teacher. Under the direction of a cooperating teacher, professional mentor, or university faculty member, novice teachers can learn to implement sound pedagogical techniques that will equip them for successful careers. In its present form, however, the experience may be of dubious value.

Research has shown that in some situations, risk taking, reflection, investigation, and problem solving are forsaken for imitation of and subservience to the supervisor (Holmes Group, 1986). In studying the behaviors of cooperating physical education teachers, Tannehill and Zakrajsek (1988) found that cooperating teachers give minimal feedback, hold few conferences, and spend little time observing their student teachers. Schempp (1985) found that student teachers judged their success based on their management skills and classroom control rather than on learning. This supports Templin's (1981) study, which showed that success in teaching was often seen as a result of using classroom management and setting low expectations. Metzler (1990) found that supervision is guided much more by the supervisor's feel for what should be done "than by intentional, systematic decisions and actions" (p. 9).

Student teaching, however, can be successful if an environment is created which invites and supports learning. Clinical supervision is one method that can be adapted readily to the gymnasium or playing field. The term clinical supervision, as defined by Cogan (1973), is the creation of a helping relationship between the supervisor and the student teacher, in which the supervisor respects the student teacher as a human being. This theory coincides with Acheson and Gall's (1992) more current belief that clinical supervision is a process, a strategy, and a distinctive style of relating to teachers which takes into account both the professional activity and the professional behaviors of the student teacher.

In clinical supervision, the supervisor provides opportunities for learning and creates an environment where the student teacher becomes self-sufficient. The supervisor, as a disengaged observer, offers another set of eyes. Objective data is collected by the supervisor and analyzed by the student teacher. The observational data is credible because it is an accurate account of what is occurring in the gymnasium, pool, or playing field. The supervisor becomes merely a helping hand, while the student teacher generates new ideas and techniques and makes decisions about changes in professional behavior. As Glickman (1985) wrote, "Successful teachers are thoughtful teachers" (p. 53).

The focus of this article is to show various ways to collect objective data that can be used by the student teacher for his or her own growth. The observation techniques listed below (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1988) can be easily adapted to the physical education setting. Before the process begins, the supervisor and the student teacher together determine the focus of the observation and agree on how the information will be collected. They also agree on the time of the observation and the follow-up conference.

Running Record

The running record is a written record of exactly what is said and done by the teacher in the physical education setting. For an inclusive running record (see figure 1), the supervisor writes down each verbal statement next to the time when it occurred. The supervisor might not be able to capture every word, but the beginnings of sentences can provide valuable information.

For an exclusive running record, the supervisor records a predetermined type of verbal event, such as questioning instructional cues or praise and scold. The supervisor and the student teacher then independently analyze this information and discover positive and negative aspects. …

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