International Handbook of Leadership for Learning

Volume 25 of the series Springer International Handbooks of Education pp 741-756


Instructional Supervision, Coherence, and Job-Embedded Learning

  • Sally J. ZepedaAffiliated withDepartment of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy, University of Georgia Email author 

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Given the importance of teachers to student and school success, teacher learning should be at the core of school leaders’ work. To foster teacher growth and development, principals have to coherently link supervision, professional development, teacher evaluation, and other practices (e.g., peer coaching, mentorship, portfolio development, and action research) to meet the needs of adult learners. To be effective, these practices should be combined into a comprehensive, job-embedded support program for teachers. Although they all target teacher growth and development, instructional supervision, teacher evaluation, and professional development serve different purposes. Formative in nature and concerned with ongoing, developmental, and differentiated approaches, instructional supervision aims to promote growth, development, interaction, and fault-free problem solving by allowing teachers to examine their own classroom practices with and through the assistance of others. At the other end of the spectrum is teacher evaluation, a summative process more concerned with teacher ranking and assessment. Due to these differences in intents and purposes, instructional supervision and teacher evaluation are often in conflict, but should be bridged to bring coherence to teacher learning and development efforts. Effective and purposeful professional development is ongoing and long term and weaves together the supervisory cycles and other developmental opportunities through job-embedded learning. Coupled with instructional supervision and teacher evaluation, professional development coherently connects these processes through the practices embedded in the everyday work of teachers.