1.2 Qualities of an effective School Experience Supervisor

Once the role and tasks of the School Experience Supervisor are clear, consideration can be given to the qualities required.

Activity 1.2: Qualities of an effective School Experience Supervisor

Part 1

Read through the roles and tasks of the School Experience Supervisors and make a list of the qualities you think are needed to fulfil them effectively.

Think about what knowledge and skills they need as well as the beliefs and personal characteristics required.

Part 2

Compare your list with the list below, written by a group of School Experience Supervisors at a workshop.

Is there anything they have missed that you consider important?

School Experience Supervisors should be:

  • respectful of the student teacher and understand them
  • a facilitator and mediator of learning
  • knowledgeable and understanding of how adults learn
  • able to use creative and problem-solving approaches to learning that stimulate themselves and the student
  • a good communicator and role model
  • able to take account of what student teachers already know and can do
  • able to build on student teachers’ interests
  • able to see the value of developing links with the school and community
  • good subject knowledge
  • aware of the need to continue to develop an understanding and practice of teaching and learning
  • someone who carries out professional roles conscientiously.
  • honest and accountable, reflecting as much as possible, the students’ achievements with fairness.

Activity 1.3: Thinking about practice

Read through the three case studies on the next page. Consider the following:

  • what qualities are demonstrated by the School Experience Supervisor
  • what professional knowledge do these supervisors have and use as they carry out their role?
  • how can supervisors develop the knowledge that they need to support practice effectively?

Case Study 1.1: Preparing for school experience

Billy Sitali is a lecturer in primary education specialising in mathematics. He teaches large groups of students. The third-year students were getting ready for school experience and he had been allocated ten students to visit in school. He had only taught them as part of a large group in a lecture theatre, so he did not know them as individuals. In the week in College dedicated to getting ready for school experience, he arranged to meet them as a group and introduced himself to them. He was keen to learn more about the students and how they were approaching school experience. First, he asked them to chat in pairs and share three things they were excited about and three things they were worried about. Then he asked them to work in groups to discuss the things they were worried about and to work together in order to think about how they might address the challenges. By the end of the session, he knew their names and they had formed a WhatsApp group to keep in touch.

Case Study 1.2: A second visit

Chewe is a School Experience Supervisor in a College of education in Zambia. She was due to visit a student, Malcolm, in school. This was the second time Malcolm had been visited, but the first visit was made by a different lecturer. Chewe read the report from the first visit and contacted the lecturer, Boniface. She wanted to find out more about Malcolm’s progress with teaching. Boniface remembered Malcolm because he had been very nervous. Boniface suggested that he planned the key questions he would ask in class, and they had discussed different strategies for responding to the learners’ answers.

Chewe was pleased to see Malcolm had planned a mixture of closed and open questions when she observed a social studies lesson. Afterwards, she asked Malcolm how he felt about teaching. He said that he felt much more confident because writing out the questions meant he could concentrate on other aspects of classroom management. They had a useful discussion about higher order questions. Chewe used her phone to show him the TESSA key resource on questioning and the Social Studies OER.

Case Study 1.3: Using TESSA to provide practical help

Christine’s specialist subject is literacy and she has been a School Experience Supervisor for many years. This year she had been allocated students from different subject areas, including Matilda who was learning to be a science teacher. Christine went to visit and observe Matilda, who was teaching a Grade 5 about plants. She started the lesson with some very simple questions which covered aspects of the topic that the children probably knew in Grade 1. She then introduced the structure of a flower, drawing a diagram from the textbook onto the board and asked the students to copy it into their books. She then dictated notes on the various parts of the flower, including a great deal of new vocabulary. Christine was struck by how undemanding the first half of the lesson had been and how difficult and boring the children had found the second half of the lesson. While she was observing, she opened TESSA Science module 1, section 2 ‘A closer look at plants’ on her phone. After the lesson she shared the module with Matilda and together they planned some questions that would help to find out with what the children already knew and make them think. With Christine’s help, Matilda adapted activity 2 and planned the next lesson. She would bring in some flowers and ask the children to relate the actual flowers to the diagram they had copied.

1.1 The role and tasks of the School Experience Supervisor

Tool 2: Introducing TESSA