Reflective conferencing in teacher supervision: Perceptions of teachers

Kimberly Clark Bird


Reflective conferencing is an instructional leadership tool used by principals to facilitate teachers' professional growth by leading them to reflect on the effectiveness of a lesson. This mixed methods study examined how instructional leadership characteristics of principals and reflective conferencing impacted the professional growth of teachers of different grade levels and experience phases. A questionnaire was administered to teachers (N = 289) and semi-structured interviews of a subset of the respondents were conducted with 16 teachers and 3 administrators in one school district. Middle school teachers reported more classroom observations and more positive perceptions of their principals' instructional leadership characteristics than elementary and high school teachers. Elementary and middle school teachers reported more professional growth resulting from reflective conferencing than high school teachers. Teachers in Huberman's (1995) Stabilization combined with Experimentation and Diversification phases with 4-18 years of experience and Serenity phase with 19 or more years of experience benefited from reflective conferencing activities. Survival and Discovery teachers with 0-3 years of experience also benefited from reflective conferencing but were less practiced at self-analysis. Participants reported a positive impact on student achievement. However, the teachers would prefer more frequent reflective conferencing opportunities and more peer involvement in the process. Recommendations for future research include studies that focus on principals' perceptions as opposed to teachers' perceptions of the impact of reflective conferencing, discourse patterns in reflective conferences, the impact of reflective conferencing on student achievement, the impact and importance of trust in the reflective conferencing process and a comparison of the impact of reflective conferencing between teachers and principals and teachers and peers.