Teacher Supervision in the Context of Linguistic Diversity in OECD Countries

Abstract

This study addresses teacher supervision in a context of linguistic diversity using data from the OECD’s Teachingand Learning International Survey (TALIS, 2013) in which school leaders (N = 7438) from 36 OCDE-member countries participated. Factor analyses on the principals’ supervision practices enabled us to identify three forms of supervision: administrative, pedagogical, and professional (career development). Kendall tau-b correlations revealed that the principals’ administrative and career development supervision correlated with the linguistic diversity of the students. Also discussed is the impact of this linguistic diversity on the administrative supervision provided and the teacher professional development.

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Azovide, Y. and Bouchamma, Y. (2021) Teacher Supervision in the Context of Linguistic Diversity in OECD Countries. Creative Education, 12, 1103-1117. doi: 10.4236/ce.2021.125082.

1. Introduction

With significant human migratory movements on the rise, the portrait of welcoming societies and their schools has considerably changed (Castles, 2010; Czaika & De Haas, 2014; De Witte, 2018; Goldin, Cameron, & Balarajan, 2011; Hall & Posel, 2019; Koser, 2016; OECD, 2018; Triandafyllidou, 2018). In this context, schools in many countries must therefore compose with the cultural and linguistic diversity of their students (Appave & David, 2017; Castles et al., 2002; Commission européenne, 2018; Demireva, 2017; OECD, 2018; Newland, 2017; Silver, 2015; Somers, 2018; Zetter et al., 2006), resulting in additional tasks for both principals and teachers. In OECD-member countries, improving student achievement and the performance of multicultural schools is notably achieved through the principal’s Supervision of their teachers’ professional growth (OECD, 2018; Somers, 2018; Panagiotopoulou & Rosen, 2018).

In order to respond effectively to the specific needs of immigrant-origin youth, teachers must pursue continuous professional development using pedagogical practices associated with intercultural education (UNESCO, 2017). Indeed, teachers in many education systems agree that they need to grow professionally to better meet the challenges of teaching immigrant-origin students (OECD, 2018; UNESCO, 2017; Brown & Medway, 2007; McAndrew, 2001) and that their principal plays a key role in this process (OECD, 2018).

It is well established that school leaders are responsible for teacher supervision as part of their current pedagogical practices exercised in today’s schools (L’Hostie & Boucher, 2004). Their leadership directly influences the general effectiveness of the school, the teachers’ motivation and commitment, the working conditions, the delegation of power within the organization, and the school’s culture (Bouchamma, 2011; Collerette, Pelletier, & Turcotte, 2013; Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005; Pont, Nusche, & Moorman, 2008; Robinson, 2007; Spanneut, 2010). And yet, despite the emergence of inclusive education in several countries, the principal’s leadership remains far from understood in contexts of diversity (Bouchamma, 2008, 2011; Lambert & Bouchamma, 2019). The study of Branch, Hanushek and Rivkin (2012) noted the low presence of quantitative studies in the field of leadership, despite its effect on academic success. Thus, it seems relevant to contribute to knowledge on this topic with quantitative studies.

2. Review of the Literature

Leadership signifies exercising a regular and repetitive influence to stimulate and encourage collaboration in group actions (Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005; Northouse, 2012; Pont, Nusche, & Moorman, 2008; Robinson, Lloyd & Rowe, 2008; Robinson, 2007; Spanneut, 2010). Specifically, pedagogical leadership and transformational leadership are characterized by regularly scheduled meetings and practices that are adopted before, during, and after the process, with teaching-related discussions centered on providing constructive feedback to the teacher (Marshall, 2005; Bouchamma, 2005; DuFour, DuFour & Eaker, 2004; Nolan & Hoover, 2008; Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2013; Silva & Dana, 2001).

Studies have indeed demonstrated the positive effect of principals’ practices on both teaching and student learning and notably on motivation and involvement, teachers’ perceptions, and the climate they establish in the school (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006, 2008; Leithwood et al., 2004). For example, in their study of several meta-analyses, Pont, Nusche, and Moorman (2008) identified five leadership practices of principals that contributed significantly to improving teaching and learning: enhanced teacher quality, clearly defined and coherent objectives, students’ measured outcomes, guaranteed resources, and collaboration with partners in the community.

Although the relevance of pedagogical leadership has been widely acknowledged in the literature, the pre-service training of principals on this aspect is relatively recent and the required competencies in these training profiles are either incomplete or require updating, as has been observed in Québec’s education leadership profiles. Specifically, in the competency standards for school leaders in Alberta, Australia, and the United States, diversity management is addressed, yet it is absent in the Québec profiles (Bouchamma & Lambert, 2019; OECD, 2018). The present study therefore explores two key concepts, namely, teacher supervision practices and students’ linguistic diversity.

2.1. Pedagogical Supervision Practices

Principals’ teacher supervision practices are not viewed here a summative evaluation for recruitment or promotion purposes, but rather as effective guidance and supervision provided to teachers to facilitate and supervision pedagogical adjustments to best address the needs of the students (Leithwood, Harris, & Hopkins, 2008; Nolan & Hoover, 2008; Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2013). Notable actions include the elaboration, development, and coordination of teaching plans and educational programs and the determination and supervision of high-performance teaching standards through targeted facilitation for both teachers and their teaching practices during regularly scheduled meetings (Bouchamma, 2005; Cotton, 2003; Lapointe & Archambault, 2005; Marshall, 2005; Nolan & Hoover, 2008; Silva & Dana, 2001).

2.2. Students’ Linguistic Diversity

The school is known to reflect certain societal aspects (Castles, 2010; Czaika & De Haas, 2014; Demireva, 2017; De Witte, 2018; Goldin, Cameron, & Balarajan, 2011; Hall & Posel, 2019; Koser, 2016; OECD, 2018; Silver, 2015; Triandafyllidou, 2018). In order to manage this diversity, principals are called upon to supervise their teachers’ pedagogy-driven practices and impose effective supervision measures in this regard (Appave & David, 2017; OECD, 2018; Panagiotopoulou & Rosen, 2018; Somers, 2018).

2.3. Objectives

Because principals’ teacher supervision practices—although extensively researched—remain undocumented in the presence of student linguistic diversity (Bouchamma, 2008, 2011; Bouchamma & Lambert, 2018), we sought to gain knowledge on these supervision practices in such a context while considering the principals’ sociodemographic and socioprofessional characteristics and those pertaining to their school. Thus, this study aims to determine the nature of the links between the linguistic diversity of students at school and the pedagogical supervision and support practices of teachers.

3. Methodology

3.1. Data Sources and Participants

We used TALIS 2013 data gathered from a questionnaire administered to school principals (N = 7438) from 36 member-countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The questionnaire housed 39 questions on the subject of linguistic diversity in schools (percentage of schools in which students whose [first language] is different from the language(s) of instruction or from a dialect of this/these languages(s)) and the principals’ personal and professional characteristics and teacher supervision practices in these OECD-member countries. Data from questions 1, 9, 10, 15A, 21, and 29 describe the professional development supervision provided by the principals to their teachers in contexts involving student linguistic diversity.

3.2. Sample

The participating principals hailed from 204 schools of OECD-member countries (TALIS, 2013). Of these participants, 87.2% (N = 5979) had been trained in School administration or principal training programme or course, while 91.6% (N = 6128) had acquired Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course, and 79.6% (N = 5330) had benefited from Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course before and/or after entering the profession as principal.

Females accounted for 49.7% (N = 3692) of the participants and males accounted for 45.3% (N = 3371) of the total sample of schools presenting the following characteristics pertaining to linguistic diversity (Table 1).

Table 1. Presence of students’ linguistic diversity.

N = 7438.

3.3. Variables

Following a factor analysis of questions 21 and 29, we identified three dependent variables defining the type of supervision given by the principals to their teachers (see Table 2): 1) administrative supervision; 2) pedagogical supervision; and 3) career development supervision. Our independent variables were the linguistic diversity of the students, sociodemographic (principalsgender), socioprofessional (training in School administration or principal training programme or course; Formal education/teacher training or course; Formal education/instructional leadership training or course, experience as principal in this school and overall), and contextual characteristics (type of school management, schools location).

Table 2. Principals’ teacher supervision practices (Questions 21 and 29).

3.4. Data Analysis

SPSS 27 software was used to analyze the data. Since our variables were ordinal categorical (Cohen, 1992, 2013), we performed a Kendall’s tau-b correlation analysis to examine the relationships between the linguistic diversity of the students, and certain relevant sociodemographic (principals’ gender), socioprofessional (training in School administration or principal training programme or course; Formal education/teacher training or course; Formal education/instructional leadership training or course); and experience as principal in this school and overall), and contextual characteristics (type of school management, school’s location). This was also justified by the fact that school principals’ practices can be grouped hierarchically according to all independent variables selected in our study.

4. Results

4.1. Factor Analysis Results

Table 2 shows that the factor analysis of 17 items associated with the different types of teacher supervision practices used by principals (questions 21 and 29) produced three factors explaining 44.523% of the total variance.

The most significant factor was “Administrative supervision”, which alone explained 22.988% of the total variance and consisted of items 21A (collaborated with teachers to solve discipline problems), 21C (supported co-operation among teachers), 21F (provided parents or guardians with information), 21G (checked for mistakes in school procedures), and 21H (resolved problems with the lessons timetable.

The second most significant factor was “Pedagogical supervision”, which explained 14.318% of the total variance. This factor housed items 21D (teachersresponsibility for improving teaching skills), 29A (measures to remedy any weaknesses in teaching are discussed), 29B (development or training plan is developed for each teacher), and 29D (mentor is appointed to help the teacher improve his/her teaching).

The third most notable factor, “Career development supervision”, explained 7.216% of the total variance and consisted of items 29C (material sanctions such as reduced annual increases in pay are imposed), 29E (change in a teachers work responsibilities), 29F (change in a teachers salary or a payment of a financial bonus), 29G (change in the likelihood of a teachers career advancement), and 29H (dismissal or non-renewal of contract). The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy was 0.839, which was excellent as it was above 0.5, while the obtained Cronbach’s alpha for all 17 items of questions 21 and 29 was 0.770, which was also considered excellent, as it was above 0.6.

The retained independent variables included the principals’ sociodemographic (gender) and socioprofessional characteristics (formal education/school administration or principal training programme or course; formal education/teacher training/education programme or course; formal education/instructional leadership training or course; experience/year(s) working as a principal at this school/year(s) working as a principal in total), school-related contextual determinants publicly/privately managed school, schools location), and finally the amount of student linguistic diversity (percentage of students whose [first language] is different from the language(s) of instruction or from a dialect of this/these languages(s)), as measured on a scale ranging from “absent” (0%) to “very strong” (60% or more) on item A of question 15.

4.2. Correlations

A correlation analysis was conducted to determine correlations between the principals’ supervision practices, the students’ linguistic diversity, the principals’ sociodemographic and socioprofessional characteristics, and the contextual characteristics of their schools.

Table 3. Correlations between the three types of teacher supervision and the principals’ sociodemographic and socioprofessional characteristics and those of their school and students.

Note: *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01.

Table 3 shows weak, negative, yet significant correlations between the principals’ administrative supervision given to their teachers and the following five variables:

1) Career development supervision (τ = −0.026; p < 0.01): Administrative supervision decreased when their career development supervision increased.

2) Studentslinguistic diversity (τ = −0.112; p < 0.01): Administrative supervision decreased when the studentslinguistic diversity increased.

3) Schools location (τ = −0.044; p < 0.01): Administrative supervision decreased when the school was located in an area where the number of inhabitants increased.

4) Type of school management (τ = −0.085; p < 0.01): Administrative supervision decreased when the school was privately managed.

5) Gender of the principal (τ = −0.092; p < 0.01): Administrative supervision decreased when the principal was male.

In contrast, the amount of administrative supervision given to the teachers was shown to increase when:

● the career development supervision decreased;

● the studentslinguistic diversity decreased;

● the school was located in an area where the number of inhabitants decreased;

● the school was publicly managed;

● the principal was female.

Weak, positive, but significant correlations were observed between administrative supervision and Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course (τ = 0.023; p < 0.05), indicating that administrative supervision increased when the principal had benefited from Formal education/Teacher training/education or course before and/or after becoming principal.

Weak, negative, but significant correlations were observed between the principals’ pedagogical supervision for their teachers and the following:

Gender of the principal (τ = −0.088; p < 0.01): Pedagogical supervision decreased when the principal was male.

Training in School administration or principal training programme or course (τ = −0.021; p < 0.05): Pedagogical supervision decreased when the principal was shown to have had this training before and/or after becoming principal.

Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course (τ = −0.055; p < 0.01): Pedagogical supervision decreased when the principal had acquired this training before and/or after becoming principal.

Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course (τ = −0.076; p < 0.01): Pedagogical supervision decreased when the principal had received this training before and/or after becoming principal.

Experience as principal in this school (τ = −0.022; p < 0.05): Pedagogical supervision decreased when the Number of years of experience as principal in the current school increased.

However, pedagogical supervision was shown to increase when the principals:

● were female;

● had no Training in School administration or principal training programme or course before and/or after becoming principal;

● had no Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course before and/or after becoming principal;

● had no Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course;

● when their experience as principal in this school decreased.

Weak, positive, but significant correlations were observed between pedagogical supervision and:

schools location (τ = 0.119; p < 0.01): Pedagogical supervision increased when the school was located in an area where the number of inhabitants increased;

type of school management (τ = 0.022; p < 0.01): Pedagogical supervision was shown to increase when the school was privately managed.

Weak, negative, but significant correlations were found between the principals’ career development supervision they gave to their teachers and:

Training in School administration or principal training programme or course (τ = −0.054; p < 0.01): The principal’s career development supervision decreased when the principal had been trained in School administration or principal training programme or course before and/or after becoming principal.

Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course (τ = −0.058; p < 0.01): Career development supervision decreased when the principal had Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course before and/or after becoming principal.

Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course (τ = −0.055; p < 0.01): Career development supervision decreased when the principal had Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course before and/or after becoming principal.

However, the principals’ career development supervision was shown to increase when these school leaders:

● had no training in School administration or principal training programme or course before and/or after becoming principal;

● had no Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course before and/or after becoming principal;

● had no Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course.

Weak, positive, but significant correlations were observed between the principals’ career development supervision and:

Studentslinguistic diversity (τ = 0.068; p < 0.01): Career development supervision for the teachers increased when the studentslinguistic diversity increased;

Schools location (τ = 0.056; p < 0.01): Career development supervision increased when the school was located in an area where the number of inhabitants increased;

Type of school (τ = 0.087; p < 0.01): Career development supervision increased when the school was privately managed.

Weak, negative, and significant correlations were found between Studentslinguistic diversity and:

Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course (τ = −0.061; p < 0.01): The studentslinguistic diversity decreased when the principal had acquired Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course before and/or after becoming principal;

Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course (τ = −0.048; p < 0.01): The studentslinguistic diversity at school was shown to decrease when the principal had acquired Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course before and/or after becoming principal.

However, the studentslinguistic diversity was shown to increase when:

administrative supervision decreased;

● the principals had no Formal education/Teacher training/education programme or course before and/or after becoming principal;

● the principal had no Formal education/Instructional leadership training or course.

Weak, positive, and significant correlations were observed between Studentslinguistic diversity and the following:

Schools location (τ = 0.101; p < 0.01): Studentslinguistic diversity increased when the school was located in an area where the number of inhabitants increased;

Type of school (τ = 0.060; p < 0.01): Studentslinguistic diversity increased in the case of privately managed schools;

Experience as principal in this school (τ = 0.035; p < 0.01): Studentslinguistic diversity increased when the number of years of experience as principal in the school increased.

No correlation was found between the principals’ administrative supervision and:

● their experience as principal in this school;

● their overall experience as principal.

No correlation was found between the principals’ pedagogical supervision and:

● their career development supervision;

● the studentslinguistic diversity;

● their overall experience as principal.

No correlation was found between the principals’ career development supervision and:

● their gender;

● their experience as principal in this school;

● their overall experience as principal.

No correlation was found between the studentslinguistic diversity and:

● the principal’s gender;

● the principal’s overall experience as principal.

From these results, we gathered that except for the principals’ pedagogical supervision, their administrative supervision and career development supervision correlated with the students’ linguistic diversity and thus constituted our variables of interest for multiple regression analysis.

5. Discussion and Conclusion

Research acknowledges the significant impact of principals’ practices on working conditions and on teacher supervision and the professional development supervision they give their teachers (Leithwood et al., 2004; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006, 2008). In light of this observation, we demonstrated the relevance of analyzing the supervision and supervision practices of school leaders in OECD countries in terms of administrative supervision, pedagogical supervision, and professional development facilitation.

Our factor analyses enabled us to identify three factors among 17 items pertaining to different forms of supervision practices principals use to help their teachers (Questions 21 and 29), namely, administrative supervision, pedagogical supervision, and career development supervision. Our main findings thus concern the principals’ teacher supervision practices and sociodemographic and socioprofessional characteristics, as well as the contexts of their schools and their students.

The correlation analysis results reveal that when students’ linguistic diversity was evidenced, the principals provided less administrative supervision to their teachers by being less involved in: solving problems related to the lessons timetable; collaborating with teachers to solve discipline problems in class; checking for mistakes in the schools procedures; providing parents or guardians with information; and supporting co-operation among their teachers.

On the other hand, the principals showed a greater level of career develop supervision by engaging more in: change in a teachers salary or a payment of a financial bonus; change in the likelihood of a teachers career advancement; material sanctions such as reduced annual increases in pay are imposed; change in a teachers work responsibilities; and dismissal or non-renewal of contract following assessments.

Thus, in this study, the presence of student linguistic diversity translated to a decrease in the amount of administrative supervision the principals offered their teachers, while the absence of such diversity resulted in an increase in the amount of administrative supervision they provided. In other words, linguistic diversity slowed the manifestation of the principals’ administrative supervision. This observation concurs with other findings showing that this context indeed creates numerous additional challenges for both teachers and principals (Bouchamma, 2008, 2009, 2015; Bouchamma & Tardif, 2011; Castles et al., 2002; Marks & Printy, 2003; Somers, 2018; Zetter et al., 2006).

Our results also show that the presence of student linguistic diversity explained the increase in the amount of career development supervision provided by the principals. This added element thus represents an opportunity for school leaders to augment the profession development supervision they give to their teachers. This finding is in agreement with those of other authors (OECD, 2018; Panagiotopoulou & Rosen, 2018; Robinson, 2007; Somers, 2018) arguing that the presence of linguistic diversity in schools may create opportunities for principals to collaborate with their teachers on which of the principals’ supervision practices have the most impact on teaching and student achievement.

Our results show that in a context of linguistic diversity, principals received less continuous professional development (before and/or after their entry) in teaching or pedagogy, compared to their counterparts in schools where diversity is absent. This lack of training means that their administrative support to teachers decreases and their support for their career prospects becomes more present.

6. Implications and Future Considerations

In this study on the teacher supervision practices of school leaders in OECD-member countries, we show that in the presence of student linguistic diversity, the principals provided less administrative supervision to their teachers. We recall that the first factor emerging from our factor analyses was composed of five factors: 1) Resolved problems with the lessons timetable; 2) Collaborated with teachers to solve discipline problems in class; 3) Checked for mistakes in school procedures; 4) Provided parents or guardians with information; and 5) Supported co-operation among teachers.

Our findings thus concur with those of other studies highlighting the importance of considering the dimension of diversity in the competency standards of school leaders (Lambert & Bouchamma, 2019). Our results also show that student linguistic diversity is not a hindrance to teacher professional development; on the contrary, in schools where linguistic diversity is evidenced, principals are the best prepared to supervision the professional career development perspectives of their teachers through their positive influence in such areas as: change in a teachers salary or a payment of a financial bonus; change in the likelihood of a teachers career advancement; material sanctions such as reduced annual increases in pay are imposed; change in a teachers work responsibilities; and dismissal or non-renewal of contract following assessments.

School principals in a context of diversity tend, on the one hand to attach more importance to the performance and quality of teacher’s outcome than to their professional development (Nolan & Hoover, 2008) and, on the other hand, to use inappropriate means in the supervision of teachers (Appave and David, 2017; Panagiotopoulou & Rosen, 2018; Somers, 2018; OECD, 2018). Also, in a context of diversity, their administrative tasks are amplified (Marks & Printy, 2003; Bouchamma, 2005, 2008, 2011; Banks & Mcgee Banks, 2010) which, according to our results, are in overcrowded places.

Finally, using the TALIS 2013 data, this study enabled us to analyze several contextual aspects of the schools and their students as well as the sociodemographic and socio-professional characteristics of the principals in a context of linguistic diversity. That said, with ever-increasing numbers of new arrivals in OECD countries, it goes without saying that the TALIS 2018 data disseminated during this study paints a more relevant portrait of the current situation.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

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