Connecting the past to the present
Vaughn, Lisa Michele
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This qualitative study examined the impact of principals‘ past supervisory experiences as teachers on their current supervisory practices. The researcher sought to understand how principals characterized their past supervisory experiences and the influence of these experiences on their interactions with the teachers they supervise. Purposeful sampling was used to select five high school principals from five school sites in north Georgia. Data from two semi-structured interviews with each participant were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Data from each case were analyzed separately, and a cross-case analysis linked all cases together. Six categories emerged from the data that demonstrated how principals characterized their past experiences as positive (building human relationships, focusing on instructional improvement and supervision, intrinsic motivation, other essential school leadership qualities) or negative (destroying human relationships, focusing on management and evaluation). From the categories, four propositions were developed which provided insight into the relationship between principals‘ past experiences and their current practices. Findings indicated that the two negative categories, destroying human relationships and focusing on management and evaluation, were reflected in each participant‘s discussion of past supervisory experiences. Episodes involving the use of poor human relationship skills by supervisors or a reliance on evaluation rather than supervision, particularly during the first year of teaching, resonated in the memories of the principals. Findings were also reflective of social learning theory. Analysis of the six categories revealed that the principals in the study imitated behaviors from positive past supervisory experiences that they had as teachers in their current supervisory practices with teachers. On the opposite end, findings demonstrated that an inverse relationship existed between the negative supervisory episodes that principals experienced as teachers and their current supervisory practices as administrators. By connecting social learning theory with teacher supervision, the study‘s findings become a cornerstone that links principals‘ past experiences with their current supervisory practices.