Teaching practice is regarded as an indispensiable component of teacher education programmes. Supervisors from teacher education institutions contribute to student teachers’ learning in teaching practice by paying lesson observation visits and holding post-observation supervisory meetings with student teachers. The question of what constitutes a good supervisory meeting is of great interest to teacher educators. This paper presents a study which looks into supervisors’ subjective accounts of the best supervisory meeting in teaching practice. The study was conducted with lecturers of a former College of Education in Hong Kong who paid lesson observation visits to student teachers in secondary schools. Seventy-five college supervisors completed a self-report inventory on the perceived best supervisory meeting during a block teaching practice period. These meetings involved observed lessons of fifteen subjects at the junior secondary level. Supervisors reported what happened in the perceived best supervisory meeting in retrospect in the inventory. They gave a quantitative account of the time spent on and the themes of discussion in the meetings. Qualitative data were also collected in the inventory. Supervisors reported the conferencing approaches which they adopted in the perceived best meetings. They quoted examples of questions which they asked to facilitate student teachers’ reflection and expressed their views on the characteristics of good supervisory meetings. The time spent on the best supervisory meetings varied a great deal among different supervisors, with a range of 15 to 120 minutes. The most frequently discussed themes in the meetings were student teacher’s instructional approach to the lesson and student teacher’s mastery of the subject matter while the school environment was the least frequently discussed theme. There was also slight difference between elective subject supervisors’ and general supervisors’ focuses of discussion in the meetings. As far as conferencing approaches as perceived by supervisors are concerned, supervisors varied in the relative focuses on student teachers’ strengths and weaknesses in their teaching performance. Conferencing approaches adopted by supervisors ranged from directive to collaborative and then to non-directive approach. Supervisor-centered conferencing was a characteristic feature of the directive approach whereas student-centered conferencing characterized the non-directive approaches. Supervisors and student teachers shared ownership of the meetings in the collaborative approach. A case of team-based conferencing approach with a group of student teachers was reported as well. Supervisors quoted examples of questions that helped reflective practice in teaching. These questions can be classified into different categories, including questions that asked for and evaluation of the lesson, impact on pupils’ learning, justification of pedagogical actions, alternative teaching strategies, the student teacher’s mastery of subject matter knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge and the student teachers’ feeling. Supervisors also expressed their views on the characteristics of good supervisory meetings with respect to the logistics of the meetings, student teacher’s and their own attributes in the meetings, the supervisor- supervisee relationship as well as the process and product of the meetings. The findings of the study indicate that supervisors had varied perceptions on what constituted a good supervisory meeting. This suggests the possibility of different supervisors having different demands and expectations on student teachers in the supervisory meetings. This is probably influenced by how supervisors interpreted their dual role of advisor and assessor in supervisory meetings/ the questions that facilitated reflective practice shed light on the preparation of student teachers as reflective practitioners. The various conferencing approaches and characteristics of good supervisory meetings also give insights to lecturers in teacher education institutions in reviewing their own supervisory practices. These insights also have implications for the role of mentor teachers if school teachers are going to play increasingly more important roles in supporting student teachers in teaching practice. Finally, it is suggested that other aspects of the topic like objective accounts of supervisory meetings and student teachers’ perception of supervisory meetings can also be investigated to give a more comprehensive picture of supervisory meetings.
|Published - 1995