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LMS

Supervision

Behaviour Management

Supervision

a guide for classroom teachers and teacher aides

Education assistant supervising a group of students at a zoo.

Supervision is the task of observing everything that happens in a given area (often when students are on a break of some kind or on excursion). It usually involves gradual circulation around the designated area, reminding students of your presence and providing precorrections (‘don’t even think about it Peyton’) as well as corrections (‘walking not running Quinn’) and reprimands (‘Parker, that is unacceptable, you can stand next to me for 3 minutes’). Supervision involves addressing behaviour that is inconsistent with rules, instructions and expectations (Colvin et al., 1997). Unlike in the classroom, supervision does not involve many positive prompts – students are usually free to interact with their peers and the teacher only intervenes if there is a problem.

In some cases, teachers will supervise students quite closely and actively manage their behaviour. In other cases, more freedom might be afforded and teacher presence is all that is needed. In deciding what level of supervision is required, several factors need to be considered such as age, maturity, ability, the activity, risks and hazards, your experience, your knowledge of the student(s), policies and rules (and laws), and your ‘gut instincts’. You should also take into account the general atmosphere at the time – are students overly excited, agitated or anxious, or are they calm? Once you have considered these things, it’s time for ‘Plan Scan Act’ or PSA:

Plan

  • Plan the activity to reduce the risk of injury or damage.
  • Predict possible issues and potential hazards.
  • Consider strategies to reduce these issues and hazards.
  • Implement engineered controls to block issues in the first place.

Scan

  • Scan from left to right or right to left.
  • Scan all areas close and far.
  • Use your peripheral vision.
  • Repeat the scan regularly.
  • Check behind you as well.
  • Use ‘check left, check front, check right, check behind, check up, check down’.
  • Be vigilant even when dealing with an issue directly in front of you (don’t let an issue distract you from continuously scanning the whole area).
  • Remember situational awareness.

Act

  • Prevent issues by trying to predict them – take action (e.g. positioning, precorrection).
  • Don’t let small issues become big issues.
  • Act immediately – don’t ‘wait and see’.
  • Act proportionately.
  • Don’t get distracted (no mobile phone).

Also be aware of the following:

  • Blind spots – you cannot see everything at once but you should check all areas regularly.
  • Size of the area – the larger the area, the more scanning needed.
  • Number of students – the more students, the harder you must work.
  • Type of activity – for example, climbing a mountain is riskier than watching a play.
  • Access and exit points – always be aware of the exit points and who goes in and out.
  • Your mood – if you’ve been working hard all day, you may drop your guard.
  • Experience – what happened last time or in similar activities?
  • Types of students – some people are accident prone. Can you predict how students will behave?
  • Members of the public – if in public, you are also watching members of the public to ensure students are not rude or impeding community members in any way.
  • Intruders – be aware of ‘intruders’ who may try to enter school grounds such as to seel drugs or to intimidate a student (sometimes even wearing the school’s uniform). Most intruders are similar aged students from other schools. Schools often go into ‘lockdown’ when this happens.

Planning for supervision

Strategy table.

References:

Colvin, G., Sugai, G., Good, R. H. III, & Lee, Y.-Y. (1997). Using active supervision and precorrection to improve transition behaviors in an elementary school. School Psychology Quarterly, 12(4), 344–363. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0088967

About the author

Image of the managing director of FTTA.

ADAM GREEN

Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of FTTA, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.

Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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