Supervision meeting – part 1

In this meeting the practice teacher encourages students to reflect on:

  • What happened?
  • What was going on?
  • How else might the interaction have been handled?
  • What should happen next?


The video above is the first of five stages that illustrate different aspects of communication. You should watch the scenario, read the notes below, and make up your own notes reflecting on what you see.

Themes: social context, theories of communication, giving and receiving feedback

We are now going to look at the supervision meeting in detail. You can choose which aspects you wish to explore now and which you wish to come back to later. Please be aware that this list cannot be exhaustive – there will inevitably be aspects which we have either highlighted or missed which others will notice. This is the nature of communication – it is always affected by who we are and how we see the world. An awareness of the partial and subjective nature of communication is the beginning of an understanding of communication.

Social context

At its most simple, communication is "social interaction through messages" (Fiske 1990:2). All communication takes place in a social context. The social context here is a supervision meeting: it is an arranged meeting, in an office setting, and the messages being conveyed are formal, educational ones. (Just imagine how different the meeting might be in a café or a bar!) What we see here is that it is Jean who tends to ask questions and Nazra who answers. Through this process of communication, Nazra and Jean confirm their positions as learner and educator. Of course this balance will have to shift as Nazra gains in confidence and develops professional autonomy. But this is an early supervision session and Nazra is, as yet, very much in the learning role.

Theories of communication

Thompson (2003) argues that communication is a highly complex activity which requires a range of social, interpersonal and organisational skills. While early research on communication was psychological, more recent research focuses on the social and sociological aspects of communication. More information on theories of communication…

Giving and receiving feedback

We see from the scenario that Jean introduced Nazra to the idea of feedback at the beginning of the practice learning opportunity (she returns to this later in stage 5 using a particular format for giving feedback. Doel et al (1996: 74)). The art of giving and receiving feedback is not well developed in the UK; we often avoid giving negative feedback in case we are seen as too critical and we treat positive feedback with suspicion – what does he/she want from me?? But in educational terms, receiving feedback is crucial to a learning process, and is useful to reflect on our own experiences of feedback as this will influence our attitudes towards, and skills in, this area of educational practice. More information on giving and receiving feedback…

Thinking point

Think about the last time you received feedback. Maybe it was a staff appraisal, or perhaps even a partner or child telling you what they thought of you. How did it make you feel? What were the ingredients that made it especially good or especially awful?