What Does Reflective Supervision Mean for Supervisees?
Reflective supervision is a regularly scheduled time when I meet with my supervisor to explore my work with infants, toddlers, and families. I use this time to reflect on my own beliefs and to better understand the perspective of the families I work with.
Home visitors, family child care providers, and teachers all form intimate relationships with families and young children. In the course of this work, strong emotions may come up. When these feelings arise, staff need access to the kind of support and professional development that reflective supervision offers.
What Does Reflective Supervision Mean for Supervisors?
Reflective supervision is a regular time where I listen and learn from staff about the intricate work they do with the families in our program. During this time, staff share the joys, concerns, and struggles they have with families to gain a better perspective on their work. In this setting, I can help build on staff's strengths and help them build on the strengths of the families with whom they work.
Reflective supervision can be one of the most effective forms of professional development for staff. It also provides supervisors with an opportunity for growth. By working closely with staff, supervisors can help them to gain the skills they rely on to do this difficult and rewarding work.
What Does Reflective Supervision Mean for Program Leaders?
Reflective supervision provides a respectful, understanding, and thoughtful place where staff can share information, thoughts, and feelings about their work. Staff's experience in reflective supervision directly affects the interactions they have with children and families. Program leaders focus on this complex nest of relationships because it is important to quality care.1
Program leaders share the benefits of reflective supervision for the program and for staff. They explain how the investment of time and resources in this practice pays off. They observe that staff are more content, better at their jobs, and seem less likely to leave. Additionally, they see positive effects on family outcomes. Program leaders who support the use of reflective supervision find it to be an integral component of the quality services they provide to staff.
The skills of self-reflection and shared reflection are important in building reflective practice. This article explains what self- and shared reflection are and includes strategies for improving practice.
Reflective Supervision: A Tool for Relationship-Based EHS Services
Find out what reflective supervision looks like for Early Head Start (EHS) programs. Learn about important implementation elements and how to resolve common challenges.
See how the experiences of a Maine EHS program highlight the approaches, successes, and dilemmas in implementing reflective practices. Participants will gain practical approaches for developing a shared understanding of reflective supervision and early childhood coaching.
This handout defines reflective supervision and related terms. It describes why it is an important practice for staff who work with infants, toddlers, and their families. [PDF, 23KB]
This audio conference features Sherry Heller, co-editor of A Practical Guide to Reflective Supervision, federal staff, and program managers who use reflective supervision in their EHS programs. Panelists discuss the challenges of introducing and implementing the reflective supervision. They also share their keys to success.
Discover strategies for implementing reflective supervision in your Head Start, Early Head Start, or Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program. The webcast features a mini-training with EHS staff led by Rebecca Shahmoon-Shanok, LCSW, Ph.D., a leading early childhood expert.
In EHS programs, reflective supervision and reflective parenting practice are a circle of support. They are the continuous relationships that allow caring for and supporting infants and toddlers to be the main focus.
In this short paper, Head Start managers and staff will learn about promoting staff and family growth through positive relationships. The challenges of supervision and the benefits of establishing a supportive and healthy learning community also are addressed.
This 30-minute video presents an opportunity for new leaders to enhance their management capacity. Listen as experienced leaders share their stories. Together, these veterans have provided more than 40 years of service to infants, toddlers, and expectant families! Glean insight as you hear their lessons learned.
Meet Sam and Janine. Both are new to reflective supervision. Sam is a new director and Janine is a new home visitor. Each has questions about how reflective supervision works. The information sheet for supervisors shows Sam thinking about steps she needs to take to become a good supervisor. The information sheet for supervisees shares questions Janine has about reflective supervision. Together they can help programs think and plan carefully for this important process.
This audio conference focuses on the importance of setting and maintaining professional boundaries in work with expectant families and infants, toddlers, and their families. Panelists offer tips and practical strategies for defining roles and maintaining boundaries in EHS programs.
1. Adapted from Shahmoon-Shanok, Rebecca as cited in Sherryl Scott Heller and Linda Gilkerson. 2009. A Practical Guide to Reflective Supervision. Washington DC: ZERO TO THREE: 8.
1. Adapted from Shahmoon-Shanok, Rebecca, Linda Gilkerson, Linda Egbeer, and Emily Fenichel. 1995. Reflective Supervision: A Relationship for Learning. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE: 43-44.
"Leadership takes place in the context of relationships, and quality relationships are crucial to good outcomes."
Parlakian, Rebecca, and Nancy L. Seibel. 2001. Adapted from Being in Charge: Reflective Leadership in Infant/Family Programs. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE: 2.
Last Reviewed: July 2015
Last Updated: August 6, 2015