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Supervising students in a school setting

teacher aide supervising students in an outdoor setting

Supervising students in a school setting

Supervision is the never-ending process of observing what is happening around you. In some cases, you will need to supervise children very closely whereas in other situations you can give students more freedom. In deciding what level of supervision is required, you will need to consider:

  • The age of the student
  • The activity being undertaken
  • The equipment being used
  • Experience with the students
  • The hazards and risk of the task
  • The standard practice in that situation
  • Policies, rules, laws, regulations etc.
  • Instructions given to you by your teacher

There are four approaches or types of supervision. You may use a combination of these 4 types of supervision depending on the needs of the situation.

Autocratic A person wields power in an authoritarian manner and expects obedience from others based on their position of power.

Laissez-faire A person in charge is relaxed and casual in their approach to supervising others and may let others manage the task.

Democratic A person in charge asks those being supervised for agreement and input into the rules and activity.

Bureaucratic The person in charge carefully follows the relevant policies or procedures without much interpretation. Plan Scan Act (PSA) is an easy to remember strategy to help ensure sufficient supervision during all activities.


  • Plan the activity to reduce the risk of injury or damage
  • Consider possible issues, hazards etc. that may arise
  • Consider strategies to reduce issues such as proximity (where you stand/sit)


  • Scan from left to right or right to left covering every part of the area
  • Use your peripherals vision at all times
  • Repeat the scan regularly


  • Prevent issues by trying to predict them and take action
  • Don’t let small issues become big issues
  • Act immediately
  • Act proportionately
  • Don’t interrupt others (for example yelling across the room)


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