Alright, it’s time for the nitty gritty: Chapter 2 is all about Large Group Supervision. I suppose for any school administrator, this is the … thing … that worries you, so it’s appropriate to tackle first.
Boyd starts off by saying it took 3 years to establish a more productive and positive environment in the school she took over (always nice to see a little humility in the education memoir genre).
She says that the first place to focus is not necessarily the individual classrooms (somewhat counterintuitive), but rather any place where larger groups can congregate.
Because every school is different, no one procedure is applicable for each of these areas of supervision. There are some generalizations however, that can inform the work of structuring a building’s whole-school procedures. The first is this: Just because we’ve always done it this way doesn’t mean it’s the best procedure for now.
I get that, to a certain extent. Any time something isn’t working, it’s good to reexamine. But you also want to be careful not to be wasting effort on building a better mousetrap with policies and procedures–it’s a difficult balance to strike.
Generalization #2: Many hands make light work. Even though individual classrooms might not be your first area of focus, you should still use your individual teachers to enforce policies, as expecting administrators to enforce all policies–dress code, for example–is unrealistic and inefficient.
However, the role of the administrator is to “establish an efficient, systematic response to preventing and managing procedural violations.” Teachers have to know what to do, administrators have to follow up, and administrators have to communicate with teachers about the follow up.
Generalization #3: Seek first to understand. Boyd gives the example of trying to figure out why certain students were consistently out of uniform before simply issuing consequences (poor students couldn’t afford replacement uniforms).
Generalization #4: Never expect a cure-all. To expect 100% compliance will result only in frustration. Rather, seek to make continual progress and minimize infractions to the greatest extent possible.
Overall, this chapter didn’t really lay out a plan for large-group supervision, but it did hit on some key principles:
- constantly re-evaluate schoolwide procedures
- be patient but maintain a sense of urgency
- work your policies through your teachers
- attempt to understand the reasoning behind violations
- be goal-oriented but realistic