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Strategic Supervision

Dennis Lewis
Date of Post
Sep 27, 2009

Strategic Supervision

Have you ever wondered what effective student supervision and successful fishing have in common?  If your answer has anything to do with 'strategy', you are on the right track.

Ask any seasoned administrator, and he will tell you that for supervision to be effective, it must include administrative strategy.  As an experienced fisherman what determines where and how to fish, and his answer will also include some type of strategic decision making.  Time of day, weather conditions, geographical location, first hand experience and reports from others will be relevant to both.  Successful fishermen do not randomly fish, and successful principals do not randomly decide where and how to supervise a school building or event.

As with many tings in the school business, it is well advised to develop a written plan and to communicate expectations to those that must carry out the duties.

As you develop your plan for supervision, we suggest asking the following questions:

  1. Based upon knowledge of the school plant and past disciplinary situations, as well as staff and student input, where and at what times of day should supervisory personnel be placed at specific location?
    • We would suggest beginning with bus arrivals and departures, lunchroom, student commons areas and hallways during class change.
    • Additionally, a periodic review of discipline and accident reports can provide insight into the location of problem areas.  An analysis of this data is best completed by an internal safety committee made up of staff and faculty members.  When staff is involved in the review of data, they become more participatory in the process of school safety.
  2. Does my current supervisory plan include the following:
    • Beginning and ending times for supervision duties
    • Communication procedures between supervisors and administrative personnel, such as a requirement to carry a radio or cellular phone
    • Instructions for evacuations or in place sheltering and the expectations and duties for staff during times of supervision
    • Notations of special problems or areas requiring special attention
    • Monitoring hallways, exterior doors, restrooms, common areas, etc.
  3. How should principals remind staff about the value, responsibility, and accountability related to supervision?
    • In addition to giving staff a handbook that provides expectations for student supervision, periodic discussion of supervisory guidelines should be a part of faculty meetings throughout the school year.  Staff should be required to sign for receipt of the handbook indicating that it has been read, understood, and an opportunity given to ask questions.  Faculty agendas that provide documentation of items discussed should be retained.
  4. Have I trained all personnel in the dynamics of supervision?
    • In addition to training full time staff, provisions should be made to ensure that substitute teachers and staff hired after the beginning of the school year are provided with similar expectations for supervision.  Substitute teacher folders should include instructions indicating the same supervisory guidelines as the regular education teacher.
  5.  Do I always model the appropriate techniques for supervision?
    •  Administrators should properly model supervisory techniques by refraining from personal adult conversation while on supervisory duty.  When faculty see administrators that are not paying attention to students, the message is sent that this is an acceptable practice.

Remember, many aspects of school security and safety come with a price; however, strategic supervision is one of the most valuable, inexpensive and proven methods to ensure staff and student safety.  It will require a number of discussions and considerable planning, but it will be well worth the effort in establishing the optimum safe school environment.