I was a site supervisor once. Once. That was all I could handle. I was a department chair at 2000 student/8 counselor/4 guidance secretary high school with an IB programme housed within it, at the time. To this day I still think about how I short changed my poor graduate student (who by the way, decided she could make more money as a mental health counselor). I was just too busy. I had no time. She hated to learn graduation requirements, but loved to work with the students who showed some questionable lethality after the suicide/depression presentation. I was the opposite. Site supervision is not for everyone. It takes a lot of time, patience and work. I know some really great ones and some really poor ones. Fortunately, I am honest enough with myself to know...I fall to the poor side. I know my strengths and site supervision is not one of them. However, everyone is not that honest.
Fast forward eight years to my current position and my exposure to supervision a la PhD program. Supervision is extremely important to the field of counseling. It keeps counselors relevant, accountable and sane! Unfortunately, public K-12 education does not understand true supervision. The closet thing we have is programmatic supervision (ASCA, NOSCA, TSC models, etc.) and making sure our schools implement some type of model or site supervision (student teaching to the masses). Site supervision is extremely important for it allows us to train the next generation of school counselors. However, I know some school counselors who have intern students because they need re-certification points, who bad mouth the SC models used by their divisions, who really don't help the student learn anything and the university has come in and removed the student; and who use student teacher models to train school counselors. Eeeekkkkk!!!! Did you know there are SC supervision models in which to follow if you have a problem or concern? Well there are and there are some really good ones. I actually know of 18 school counseling site supervision models. I am sure there are more, but these are the ones that I have found.
In my division all school counselors wanting a practicum or intern student must complete a 2 hour training by a local counselor educator, who is the supervision coordinator at one of our local universities. We have a job spec, a chart of local colleges and their requirements/who to contact/etc. and case scenarios. We have cleared it with our HR department and our school counselors receive re-certification points.
So as I close out this post, let me give you some pointers on how to be a great site supervisor:
- Hold your students accountable - dress, attendance, responsibility, etc. This may one day be your future colleague.
- Give them every experience you can think of. That is the only way they are going to be competitive. The market is cut throat out there.
- Make sure you spend 30 minutes a week to process the week's events.
- Let them create a lesson in addition to presenting it.
- Call their university supervisor if they are not up to par. Call the university dept. chair if the university supervisor slacks off! Students are guests of the school division. School divisions DO NOT have to accommodate universities.
- Send the student back if they just don't measure up. Have the "come to Jesus" conversation.
- If they are great, let your principal or district supervisor know. That way it may be easier for them to obtain a job within your division.
- Make sure you help them understand the school culture and let them know mental health counseling is a lot different than school counseling.
- Stress the importance of professional development and professional organizations.
- Be honest on their evaluations.
Hopefully you will discover and be honest with yourself if you are meant to be a site supervisor. It's not for everyone and that's ok. Hats off to those who do it! We need you in our field!
Enjoy the first weeks of school!