“Supervision for Head Teachers, Assistant Head Teachers, SENCO’s and those involved in Safe Guarding"
Within Health and Social Care, there is a history of clinical supervision that recognises the emotional weight of work undertaken.
Head Teachers and SLT are repeatedly exposed to hearing traumatic stories and dealing with ethical dilemmas and are bound by confidentiality and have no safe space to process the impact of holding such complexity.
Education culture does not allow teachers to enter a space of not knowing. Supervision allows teachers to enter into the area of not knowing so they can find what needs to be known.
Head Teachers and SLT set the cultural tone within school every day and have the power, therefore, to inform the school day and ensure it has a sense of balance. If they are unregulated it has an effect on staff and children. If they are regulated they are capable of clear thinking, compassion, creative thinking and kindness. This has a positive impact on the whole school community.
By the SLT engaging in supervision, they are role modelling to the rest of the staff the importance of vulnerability and believing inherently in the process and the role of supervision in the whole school.
Why do people who work in Education come to supervision?
One Assistant Head from Warwickshire said it gives her
“the chance to reflect holistically on my practice, understand and share the blocks that were /are hampering me being the best me I can be at work - and subsequently out of work - and finding a place to offload my worries with regard to safeguarding and the toll it can take physically and mentally.”
Passion-People go into education because at some point they were passionate-it felt/feels like a calling. Over time this can get lost and one can become disconnected from this feeling under the weight of internal and external pressure…
Feeling Overwhelmed and Lost - Educationalists come to Talking Heads Supervision because they want to be the best they can be…they know the value of taking an hour a month to truly be with all aspects of their work and non-work self with a person they trust and feel safe with. It is only with such a person that we can risk sharing what is not feeling ok, what we feel is not going well, maybe how unsure and afraid we are….
Isolation – Those in senior leadership roles in schools work in a culture that is currently about managing. We have experienced offering group supervision with a team in the same learning community. They could not use the group as needed and talk about difficult coping strategies as they still had to see each other at a meeting the next day. That is why we work with Senior Leaders in schools on a 1-2-1 basis.
What happens when we meet?
I find out whether you would like a tea/coffee! I think this is very important and is the beginning of the welcoming and settling process. Much that is said whilst I make a cup of tea ends up being the returned to theme of the supervision! Really!
If we are meeting via skype I will still make sure you know you are welcome to have a drink and talk you through the process of settling into our respective unshared but shared space.
Face to Face
As one Devon Head Teacher said, it is important to leave the building and come and leave everything in the room. It is then possible to return to work with the shift in energy and perspective that happens in supervision. The drive/walk to me is also important.
Supervision is a long- term relationship – when it is right. I have been in monthly or bi-weekly supervision (caseload dependent) for the last 18years. I have had 2 long term supervisory relationships and the at other times I was trying to find the right person to work with.
Thoughts on clinical supervision…. Entering into it for the first time I struggled to understand how it would be different from leadership coaching…. It is different. For the first time last month, during a particularly stressful time, I looked for when the next session was in my diary. Being supervised effectively gives emotional support just by knowing you have a session coming up when you will have an opportunity to share. With a good supervisor, it is comforting to hear the issues you bring are common among leaders of schools and my emotional response is rational to the situation I find myself in. Kind regards Pete
Supervision is a time A moment A space; A reflective tool- A time, A place. Somewhere to sit To feel To get clear; Or give questions and thoughts To be heard- And to hear. To emotionally catch And be caught.... Where you are; Knowing your supervisor holds you safe In their heart ... Giving you more time to gift And to make: And to be the best you Through every corner Lifework takes.
My colleagues have asked ' What is this supervision I am receiving via Taking Heads?'. I know it is different from what I have experienced before, but I find it hard to describe what it actually is. What I do know is that it has been highly liberating and energising. It has given me time and space to reflect on the really important things and to connect with other skilled professionals. All the senior and middle managers at my school are now involved in supervision and / or coaching and the impact is really starting to be seen. It is really important that the supervision takes place away from the daily work place to provide quality space. As the principal I now have a vision that all my staff have the opportunity for such supervision - this will take a cultural shift but it needs to happen. We work with highly traumatised young people and if we are going to provide them with the best we need to look after our ourselves. When seeking advice from another senior leader, who is also receiving supervision from Lisa of 'Talking Heads',(she put us in contact with each other) it was liberating to be told that talking to a young person who has suffered extreme trauma, about that trauma, would not traumatise him any more than he had been already. I've gone back to school with greater confidence to share my new found knowledge and staff have welcomed it - growth mindset is raising it's head and that is fabulous.. You may wonder how come I am relatively new to working with children affected by adverse experiences, when I am the principal of a specialist school? Well I might be an experienced senior leader who has worked in SEND provision for nearly 40 years but I only moved into the SEMH sector just over 12 months ago. What I do know is that good relationships that build trust and good quality teaching works for everyone, irrespective of their diagnosis and childhood experiences. What I also know is that I am on a very steep learning curve and that this supervision is enabling me to rapidly build my skills and knowledge so the vision for my school is clearly defined and delivered. Knowing the supervision is there either face to face or at the end of the phone gives me confidence to drive forward in the best interests of the young people we work with. It provides me with security that I might get it wrong but Lisa will enable me to reflect and address any of those mistakes, hopefully before they impact on others.
I feel passionately that supervision is essential for senior leaders in schools. We constantly hold so much in our heads and are expected to be all things to all people when they need it. It is important that we have a confidential opportunity to give quality time to the issues that keep us awake night after night. Supervision has helped me to keep things in perspective and explore creative solutions to some of the problems where I haven’t been able to see the wood for the trees. I cannot recommend professional supervision highly enough.