Dr John Lee | Professional Supervision for Principals Q and A
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Professional Supervision for Principals Q and A

What is supervision?

It is a learning partnership formed by two professional people to assist a skilled professional to reflect on their practice in the workplace. It can occur in groups.

What is the difference between mentoring, coaching and supervision?

There is overlap between supervision, coaching and mentoring, however, the focus of supervision is squarely on the transformational learning of the professional person reflecting on their professional practice. Mentoring and coaching can place too much focus on the expertise of the mentor or coach and underrate the professional skills and expertise of the mentee/coachee.

I am concerned about the word “supervision”. In my role, I am accountable to many people and supervision sounds like having another person who wants something from me?

In fact, this style of supervision is the reverse of someone wanting something from you. This learning partnership creates a safe space that supervisees tend to look forward to because the supervisee provides the agenda and the supervisor is the skilled listener and facilitator of learning. Educational leaders enjoy having another educator interested in their agenda. Supervision is not counselling or therapy.

What is the difference between the independent consultancy supervision you offer and the line management supervision I receive from my employer’s representative?

The independent consultancy supervision I provide is radically different from the line management supervision given by the employer’s representative. As an independent consultant supervisor this supportive and confidential relationship has nothing to do with your contract renewal or next job application. Line managers are often very focused on the delivery of improved key performance indicators and less interested in the person.

Can you give examples of other types of supervision?

Psychologists may meet with a clinical supervisor and bring to supervision case studies of clients. Chaplains, ministers and priests might meet with a pastoral supervisor to discuss aspects of their work. People engaged in a variety of occupations might meet with a professional supervisor to reflect on their challenges in the workplace.

John, what is the best way of describing the sort of supervision that you provide?

I am an educator. For me, supervision is about the supervisor and supervisee creating a respectful and confidential space where the supervisee can reflect on their professional practice.   Supervision is a learning partnership at the service of the supervisee.

What sort of things do supervisees bring to supervision?

Supervisees set the agenda for each supervision session. They come prepared and share whatever they view as important and appropriate. Items brought to supervision very greatly: work/life boundaries, successes and challenges, people in the workplace, life transitions, dealing with stakeholders, wellbeing, sustainability and leading change.

Can you tell me about the sort of principals and educational leaders who you see for supervision?

I am currently working with principals and educational leaders in diverse roles and settings.   Independent, religiously affiliated schools, mainstream and students at risk, single campus and multi-campus schools, inner city, outer suburban, rural and remote, primary and secondary. Men and women in leadership committed to reflective practice and quality education that changes the lives of children, young people and communities.

Where and how does supervision occur?

Supervision can occur in a range of settings including in the workplace, a meeting room, an office, off site, or via Skype or Zoom or telephone.   Every supervisory relationship and context is different.

How long are supervision sessions and how frequently do they occur?

A typical supervision session is about one hour or perhaps an hour and a quarter or so. This varies but up to once a month is a common pattern. Educational leaders often choose to have supervision twice or three times a term: eight to ten sessions per year.

Who pays for supervision?

In many workplaces supervision is a paid for by the employer or school. This is a matter for the supervisee to clarify with their employer or school.

John what are some of the benefits for principals and educational leaders of having supervision with you?

Principals and educational leaders really appreciate having a confidential space where they can set the agenda and reflect on their professional practice with a skilled learning partner who appreciates the remands, joys and realities of school leadership. They value an independent learning partner who is fair, attentive and not part of their employing authority.

Are you an accredited supervisor?

I am accredited pastoral supervisor and member of Transforming Practices Inc, professional supervisor and supervisor member of the Australasian Association for Supervision (AAOS).

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