Approaches to Conferencing
Various approaches of conferencing offer different formats for discussing this information. Choosing a conference approach should be determined by the developmental stage and individual needs of the intern or intervention teacher, as reflected in the teaching performance and discussion during the pre and post-observation conferences. The model chosen for this Peer Assistance and Review Guidebook is based on Glickman's (1981; 1985) developmental supervision model. After informal discussions, observation, and conferencing the consulting teacher becomes aware of the needs of the intern or intervention teacher, and can also begin to identify the developmental stage of that teacher. Glickman's (1981; 1985) developmental model offers a flexible format to allow the consulting teacher to design the most useful conferencing approach to meet the individual needs of each teacher.
Three approaches that have been identified by Glickman (1981; 1985) are the non-directive approach, the collaborative approach, and the directive approach. The theory of developmental supervision discusses how those involved in supervision can diagnose the stages of conceptual thought and commitment of an individual teacher in regard to instructional improvement. The supervisor can then match one of three approaches; non-directive, collaborative, or directive (Glickman & Bey, 1990, p. 556). A key piece in determining the approach is who controls the decisions and directs the conference. The non-directive approach is one which is basically controlled by the teacher, and the consulting teacher prompts the teacher to share his or her view of what has occurred during the lesson. The role of the consulting teacher using the non-directive approach is that of listening, clarifying, encouraging, and presenting ideas. The teacher makes the decisions, taking responsibility for analyzing the lesson and identifying the changes that may occur for the next lesson. The non-directive approach is usually used with teachers who are at a higher developmental stage and thus take responsibility for how the teaching process impacts student achievement. These teachers are usually competent in the classroom, and are able to focus on individual student needs and the impact of their own values and beliefs on their teaching practice. They want to make a difference.
The collaborative approach shifts some of the responsibility to the consulting teacher, where the intern or intervention teacher has input on the decision-making process, but it is a shared process. The role of the consulting teacher is presenting, problem-solving, negotiating, and demonstrating a shared responsibility for planning changes for the next lesson. Teachers for whom the collaborative approach is best are usually at a middle stage of development, where they have mastered the management strategies, and are able to focus on instructional needs of students. They are looking for new ideas, and will be ready to explore a variety of approaches to teaching and learning. Suggestions and guidance from the consulting teacher will be welcomed, but the teachers will also be capable of critiquing their own attempts to implement new ideas.
In directive approach, the conference is directed and controlled by the consulting teacher. The consulting teacher makes direct statements and suggestions to the teacher regarding his/her teaching performance and subsequent changes. Although discussion should occur between the consulting teacher and the intern or intervention teacher, the ultimate decisions of what should occur next are made by the consulting teacher. Specifically, the consulting teacher should be demonstrating new ideas, directing the conversation toward suggested changes, and reinforcing pieces that were successful and should be maintained. Ultimately the consulting teacher takes maximum responsibility for determining the next plan of action. The directive approach is usually used with teachers who are struggling at a low stage of development, and are attempting to implement management and basic instructional strategies in order to survive in the classroom.
As consulting teachers are attempting to determine which format to use, it is important to try to understand the developmental stage of each teacher. A directive approach should be used with teachers at a low developmental stage giving the consulting teacher control of the decision-making process. As the teachers move to a higher stage of development, the consulting teacher can relinquish control of the decision-making process to the teacher.