Supervisors Training Course

I`ve recently completed a Methodist Supervisors training course. Over three sessions we looked at this whole area of supervision and we had to keep a journal. I`ve recorded the three sessions and I present them here if anyone is interested; if not then just skip it and I`ll never know !!

Journal                            23rd April 2010

My initial thoughts on being here were, “Why ?” After all, I’ve been a Presbyter for 17 years and a Superintendent for 6 years. I had plenty of other things to be getting on with ! Came as a matter of discipline, but actually found it interesting and informative (and even enjoyable!)

Enjoyed the opportunity to share with others, to learn from them and hopefully to give them something as well.

Surprised at the size of the list of positive and non-positive experiences of supervision between us. Brought back memories of my own supervision when I was a probationer. Not particularly good.

Having said that I feel that as I look at the positive side of the list, I fit more on the side of an encourager.

I’m a person who deals with practical matters and so was interested in the concept of regular, structured meetings with the probationer and the possibility of keeping a record.  Perhaps this is an area I’ve fallen short of. 

I appreciated how the purpose of the meeting was to benefit the probationer, or supervisee, but that out of it the supervisor should also grow. Accountability should come from the Methodist Theology of Corporate Accountability to each other.

Found myself very much challenged by the idea of supervision as a holy activity done for the mission of the Church. Coming from a civil service background supervision is about “getting the job done”, but this is a different way of thinking. Perhaps this might help me understand more about how to supervise as I go into a new staff situation of 6 members of staff and a co-superintendent. This may have been the biggest revelation for me and I maybe need to spend more time on this. I don’t feel that I have supervised before, in my civil service way, as Ministry isn’t about specific jobs for specific times, but is more of a way of life. However, my nature is always to encourage others and yet I maybe need to find more of that cutting edge, challenging side, to my nature in moving others forward and so moving myself.

This idea of making probationers `worthy` of Ordination is a particular challenge as it raises questions about my own ministry; is it `worthy`? Do I relate in a `worthy` way to my colleagues and congregations ? I believe I do, but perhaps this needs to be explored more. What does `being worthy` actually mean ?

 30th May 2010

Today was NATIONAL LEARNING AT WORK day; an interesting concept upon which to have a training day. A good reminder that there`s always something new to learn.

Interesting time looking at interventions and exploring how intervention is not necessarily interference, and it should be a positive thing.  Herons six categories of intervention were interesting, Directive, Informing, Confrontational (all listed as Authoratitive by Lindsay Jordan, educational developer) and Releasing tension, Eliciting and Supporting (all listed as Facilitative by Lindsay Jordan). What is natural for me and what would I avoid ? Part of intervention is also about showing how to interpret the rules and teaching discernment. This is more of how I have envisaged supervision within Ministry, as a helping role. 

 Found the time spent on power to be fascinating, including the personal power emanating from our own personality.  The supervisors power coming from a position of knowledge, of having achieved things that the Probationer hasn`t yet, experience, personal contacts and awareness of responsibilities. The probationers power comes from fresh (up to date) knowledge, personal contacts, the momentum of Ordination and how much information they choose to impart.

We should always gather objective evidence and so recording of meeting is vital for future reference. Good clear form is useful for this (about four questions and if possible electronic). Alongside this is the need for a regular meeting of about one hour, with clear, concise boundaries. There is always the need to plan ahead and book the next meeting in. This is a good reminder to me as Ministry is often hijacked by unnecessary things whereas good quality supervision is a major part of Kingdom building, whether it is with paid colleagues or with volunteers (as appropriate)

The time we spent on different learning styles was well spent and clearly explained. I`ve done some of this before so I was well aware that my description would be along the lines of an `active reflector`, someone who “gets on with it” and then reflects on the experience. However, I liked the emphasis on how all the different learning styles are needed at different times; Activist, Reflector, Pragmatist, Theorist.

We concluded by looking at the different tools required in supervision. Two styles of report, A) Critical Incident Report is about an incident important to the supervisee that can be examined and reflected upon and B) Verbatim Report whereby a written (or spoken) account of an incident/conversation can help to raise questions and reflections.

June 17th

We began with our verbatim reports in groups of three. I found this fascinating and as a person who usually hates role play this was refreshing. We didn`t `act` out any parts but simply read the report, each reading a different persons part. I found myself actively looking to support the person involved, looking to help with a way forward and thinking about the persons development afterwards.

We looked at the differences between a supervisor and a probationer. I`ve kept the full list in my notes, but it covered areas such as age, politics, gender, theology, perception of calling, learning style and family circumstances. A long and lengthy list but one in which we felt that human beings are aware of all these things automatically every day.

Our examination of Meredith Belbins work on teams was very good. Personality and roles within a team affect relationships, working practise, outcomes and the sense that once someone is aware of their place within a team then they will perform according to their abilities.

Comforted by the thought that no one is perfect, but that a perfect team can be created. I wonder if there is any mileage in trying to get our new Circuit team to consider this subject ?

Out of this work comes the theory that if we can understand the person then we can more easily help them to develop and blossom; the Holy Spirit is a transforming Spirit. We must also be aware that the context can change the dynamics of a team, new person coming in, transfer to a new circuit but there is still the need to understand the person being supervised in order for them to grow. If dynamics have changed then we need to examine how this has affected the supervisee.

We then looked at the Myers-Biggs personality test and I came out as ESFP which is described as “moderately expressed extravert, slightly expressed sensing personality, distinctively expressed feeling personality, slightly expressed percieving personality.”

I was interested to hear the rationale behind the Myers-Biggs and it dealt with much of my scepticism; the idea that thought processes are about taking in information or about organising information and then about how we handle it.

As we come to the end of the course I feel that it has been very worthwhile, it has challenged my thinking and made me more aware of how to approach relationships with colleagues and with those I supervise.


2 thoughts on “Supervisors Training Course

  1. I look forward to my supervision sessions! Seriously it looks as though it is a course that has helped you and furthermore enables you to help others along their own journeys. As you said we are always learning more day by day and it would be good for us to explore some of those things you have learnt in our new Circuit structure.
    Alison 🙂

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