Ten top tips for the teaching supervisor

Refer to: The Superguide a handbook for supervising allied health professionals. April 2012 SECOND EDITION HETI | RESOURCE.

  • 1
    Every little bit helps:

    Seize the teaching moment. Even if you don’t have the whole package worked out, it’s still worthwhile sharing what you can, as best you can. Don’t have time to run through a process or procedure in full? Draw the student’s attention to one key aspect of the task. No time for a complete debrief immediately after a difficult case? Ask a few key questions to check the student’s understanding of what occurred and give quick feedback. Follow up later when there is time.

  • 2
    Teach by guided questioning:

    Ask questions to discover the state of the student’s knowledge and understanding. Encourage independent thinking and problem-solving. Effective questioning uncovers misunderstandings and reinforces and extends existing knowledge.

  • 3
    Invite Learners to input into the agenda:

    Adult learners should be involved in decisions about the direction and content of their learning. Your ultimate objective as a supervisor is to foster the student’s ability for self-directed lifelong learning.

  • 4
    Encourage questions:

    Questions from students should always be treated with respect. You may be shocked at what they do not know, but on closer inspection, may discover that others are just keeping quiet. The three most important words in teaching and learning are “I don’t know”.

  • 5
    Focus the learner:

    Start any teaching by setting up the importance of the session. Teaching is more effective if it is tailored to learners’ interests, ambitions and current level of knowledge and ability. Answer the question: why should they pay attention to what you are about to teach them?

  • 6
    Focus the learning:

    Don’t try to teach too much at once. Try not to repeat what is already known. Clinical situations are complex but limit the learning to the key aspects that form the learning edge of your student’s knowledge base. Procedures and processes can be broken down into steps, not all of which have to be covered at once.

  • 7
    Encourage independent learning:

    Don’t try to teach everything – give enough information to set the student on track, then ask them to complete the task themselves. Keep learning open ended. Encourage students to seek other educational opportunities and report back on their learning.

  • 8
    Teach evidence-based practice:

    Build a lifelong learning attitude in your students. Even more important than knowing the current best answer to a clinical problem is having the skills to identify a clinical question, search the clinical literature, appraise the evidence and form an evidence-based plan.

  • 9
    Check the understanding:

    Have students actually understood what has been taught? Can they demonstrate clinical reasoning and put knowledge and skills into practice? If not, perhaps revisit specific topics or skill areas until they feel confident and can show that they have learned.

  • 10
    Evaluate your own practice as a teacher:

    How well did your students learn from the information you provided? Every time you teach you have a chance to learn how to do it better (and more easily) next time. Try different methods and compare outcomes. Seek feedback from your students. Compare notes with your peers.

LinkFor more helpful information refer to: The Superguide a handbook for supervising allied health professionals. April 2012 SECOND EDITION HETI | RESOURCE.

AlertBehaviours to avoid as an educator.

What leads to poor supervision?

  • Absence: supervision that is remote or infrequent is dangerous and ineffective.

  • Rigidity: setting rules without giving reasons or giving orders without explanations is not always the most effective way of communicating. This is not to say that supervisors have to explain everything all the time — but there has to be a time for explanations. The justification for systems is one of the things students must learn.

  • Intolerance and irritability: leads students to avoidance (hiding errors and gaps in their competence).

  • Not teaching: Take every opportunity that arises to assist students to learn from their clients.

  • A negative or relentlessly critical attitude: especially publicly criticising the student’s performance or seeking to humiliate the student.

  • Writing off students in difficulty: there are many reasons for suboptimal performance, including poor orientation or poor supervision, which can be addressed with simple measures.

Reflection pointTake time to reflect on your approach as a supervisor. What do you do well? What could you improve? How are you going to achieve the change you are looking for?