Both, educational supervision and administration are part of the educational system and they complement each other. Although it is commonly understood that administration encompasses supervision, they have different purposes. In order to evaluate the differences between them, it is necessary to clear up what they are. But first, it is important to understand that schools at any level are organizations.
Organizations are functional structures established to achieve goals. To be able to achieve them, they must rely on several people who are part of it. Administrators and supervisors are some of them. Through their activities, duties and tasks they achieve the goals and quality work determines quality results. It is also well known that organizations have an undeniable impact in human life.
Administration and supervision have been used in politics,
industry and business for a long time, but for educational purposes it began to be applied in the middle of the 20th century. Although educational administration has borrow many of its principles from traditional administration principles, its goals are independent and it has its own framework. What is educational administration? A basic definition implies that it is the management of institutes aimed to foster learning and teaching at any level.
This management includes physical and human resources. What make unique educational administration are its objectives, which are aimed to learning and teaching activities. Although everyone involved with schools is aware of needs and difficulties from their own point of views, only administrators have a wider perspective. This perspective allows them to organize and align people, resources and actions to achieve the goals. Despite of this wide spectrum of functions, it is only a supportive role and many times they do not deal directly with students or teachers. Its main skill is related to put together pieces and resources in the most advantageous way. Some of their most particular functions are:
- Influence the shared vision of the institute
- Involve others in setting objectives and strategies
- Establish structures and programs
- Set and administrate school budget
- Coordinate classes curricula
- Collaborate with behavior management
- Represent the community and mediate between the groups
In the other hand, although educational supervision has the same origins than administration, it also has its own goals and framework. A basic definition implies that it is the set of activities aimed to ensure that educational services are rendered by teachers to the students, according to the programs and with the best quality. Supervision can be done by a group specially designed and trained to do so, or it can be a shared responsibility among other members of the educative community. Its main goal is to achieve improvement of educational services and it covers all the aspects and levels that influence them. Administrators are also subject to supervision. Some of the most important functions are:
- Evaluate performance of teachers at schools
- Provide assistance to teachers regarding teaching methods
- Discover and promote teachers with special skills and qualities
- Provide teachers and staff with the necessary resources to make them understand the latest changes in educational methods
- Organize and deliver induction and development programs to teachers and staff
- Identify needs of the schools
Differences between educational administration and supervision
The main differences between educational administration and supervision are related to their scope and goals. Administrators organize and control the resources, represent and guide the instructional communities. Supervisors visit, diagnose, evaluate and survey instructional methods, teachers and learners, as well as overall climate.
Although educational supervision and administration differ in many ways and may vary for different educational systems, there are some common features and goal they both share. Both of them try to deliver and improve the education in general with the best conditions.