Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Reflective Supervision Buzz

It's kind of a buzz-buzz word right now, the latest and greatest -- reflective supervision.  All the cool sites are doing it.  Funders are starting to require it in some programs.  But are we really doing it?

What is reflective supervision and what does it mean to implement it correctly?
Can anyone do it?  Does it take a certain skill set?

And if people are requiring it, why aren't they providing more training and support on the topic?

 I had the great privilege of working within the Student Mentor Teacher Fellowship with a dear colleague and one of the most important aspects of this program was that someone was responsible for mentoring the mentor.  How novel!  Why are we so quick to assign this very important responsibility of reflective supervision only to turn around and walk away?  This is important work!  We need to support the mentor who is supporting the teacher who then in turn supports our children.

I suspect it boils down to us not thinking about what's best for children -- sad but true.

We've got a million reasons for not giving teachers the reflective supervision they so desperately need:

"I have a meeting."
"So-and-so was on vacation."
"Things are just so crazy around here."

Sound familiar?

Yeah, we've all said them.  I know I'm guilty at times.

What's more is that reflective supervision cannot happen without a trusting and secure relationship between the mentor and the teacher.  What teacher wants to sit down and discuss weaknesses with someone who doesn't care or expects perfection or genuinely seems disinterested?!  No one, that's who.  It becomes a facade.  It's fake.  We go through motions because it's what funding agencies want...

I'm thankful that I've seen the light and refuse to be that director.  I am busy.  But so are the teachers.  We make time for each other to sit together and talk.  About everything, even non-school things.  We're building a relationship so that when we talk about those areas to develop, it's not so awkward or difficult.  Much like we encourage strong relationships with families, we need strong relationships with teachers.

So what is reflective supervision?  To us, it's a protected time to talk about learning and teaching in the context of the center and the individual and to reflect on where we've been, where we are, and where we're going.  It's more about the relationship than the content for some of our teachers.  They're all at different stages and some are more ready/open for reflective supervision than others.

I've never had training on the topic and have done a lot of research on it in my own search for understanding.  I would love to see more of our funding agencies step up and share not only the requirement, but to also highlight the importance and process as well.  It just grinds my gears to hear people say they're using reflective supervision when anyone can clearly see they're just supervising.

If we want to grow our own, we better start watering these seeds.

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