Issue/Challenge: Promoting Quality Supervisory Relationships
Challenges that arise within the complex dynamics of relationships within professional experience (pre-service teachers, supervising teachers, tertiary mentors) can lead to tensions across personal and professional dimensions - maintaining professional relationships is important and mentor teachers need to allow pre-service teachers to develop their own teacher identity.
Professional experience is characterised by interactions between those involved – the preservice teacher (PST), the supervising teacher(s), commonly the major assessors and the university mentor(s) (Tertiary Mentors). The overall quality of the professional experience is commonly influenced by the quality of communication between these parties.
Teachers working as supervisors have the pressure of an additional adult education role on top of classroom teaching responsibilities. Additionally they need to work with explicit Professional Teaching Standards and fulfil assessment responsibility within rigorous reporting protocols. In some cases teachers have not been provided with supporting professional development in these areas and are left to navigate alone their role with little school or university support.
Supervisory relationship quality can be impacted by such factors as the challenge for teachers taking on this additional educative role, time pressure, higher priority needing to be given to their other work commitments (teaching their own students), as well as the possible impact of unexpected personal issues that may arise.
Personal and professional ‘mis-matches’ between PSTs and educators can arise due to issues associated with differences in age, race, cultural background, gender, experience as well as beliefs and values. Consequently, inter-personal tensions and communication breakdowns can progressively emerge across placements.
Tensions can also arise between supervising teachers and the university Tertiary Mentors, possibly around inadequate communication, differing judgments of a PST’s learning needs or teaching capacity, as well as uncertainty regarding areas of responsibility and levels of expertise.