Bringing Teacher Assistance and Evaluation Up to PAR: First-Year Teachers' Responses to Supervision in Peer Assistance and Review
Jones, Donna Redmond
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Peer Assistance and Review (PAR), a program initiated by teachers' unions to place teachers in charge of promoting teaching quality, rotates high-performing veteran teachers (called consulting teachers, or CTs) out of the classroom to assist and evaluate all first-year teachers, as well as any veteran teachers who fail to meet district performance standards. This study examines the experiences of five, first-year high school English teachers who worked with consulting teachers in a large, suburban school district during the 2001-02 school year. Data from interviews, documents, classroom observations and conference observations address (a) how the district introduced PAR to the first-year teachers, (b) how the relationship between the CTs and the first-year teachers developed, (c) how the first-year teachers experienced PAR as evaluation, support, and/or professional development, (d) how the first-year teachers used school-based supervisors for assistance and (e) how participating in PAR informed the first-year teachers' practices. Findings indicate that some first-year teachers were apprehensive about working with a CT at the outset of the school year. As the year progressed, six elements influenced the relationship between the first-year teachers and the CTs: (1) the frequency of the CTs' visits, (2) the nature of the CTs' feedback, (3) the CT's assistance with instructional planning and materials, (4) how the CTs defined their evaluative roles, (5) the CTs' abilities to identify with the first-year teachers and (6) how the CTs shared the supervisory function with school-based supervisors. The data, which were analyzed using Sergiovanni's (1992) model for sources of supervisory authority, suggest that when CTs supervised using mostly bureaucratic and technical-rational sources of authority, the first-year teachers' practices were narrowed, and they tended to express more negative sentiments about PAR or about their interactions with their CTs. However, when CTs drew more from professional sources of authority, they established a relationship with the first-year teachers that lent itself to promoting teacher growth. How the CT negotiated the school context also influenced whether first-year teachers expanded or narrowed their practices. Coordinated supervision is suggested as a means of increasing the likelihood that first-year teachers in PAR will expand their instructional repertoires.