The first course I'm taking is a two day trans-disciplinary workshop with OT, PT, SLP, and School Psychologists on supervising graduate students. The information makes me appreciate all of my graduate school supervisors in a new light. As a student clinician I think it's easy to forget that supervisors have to manage both their caseloads, your training, and make time for their own lives as well. You are just mostly concerned with how you are doing and what your supervisor thinks of you. I know I was definitely a student who worried about her performance in the eyes of her supervisors due to my out of field background. It took me well into my CFY to truly feel comfortable using my outside experiences to amp up my therapy sessions.
Today, we mostly discussed the roles of Supervisor and Supervisee. What makes a good SLP supervisor? The answer varies from person to person but here are some key features:
- Someone who teaches and is willing to be taught. Students are sent to you to learn something, but that doesn't mean that they can't also offer new knowledge to you. It's a mutually beneficial relationship that allows both of you to develop new skills or strengthen weaknesses.
- Someone who communicates. This means providing frequent feedback and asking students open ended questions that help them reflect. Professors at colleges have open door policies for concerns. Why shouldn't a supervisor offer the same (with guidelines on when to call)? It's important to offer students multiple methods of communication such as emails or little notecards that they can use based on their comfort level with the particular question/concern.
- Someone who is supportive. Students like to feel like you actually have a vested interest in their success. This is difficult given our hectic schedules in the schools. It's way too easy for students to fall under the impression that you don't want them there because you pay more attention to completing paperwork. It's nice to know that your supervisor wants you to do well. It could mean encouraging the student to look for resources on a certain topic or asking them to write down that awesome idea they just used in therapy.
P.S. I don't have any students coming my way in the near future. I want several more years of experience (and training) under my belt. It's just an aspect of the field that I find intriguing after seeing so many Livejournal posts concerned with horrible supervisors.