The Supervisory Relationship
This chapter continues the discussion of features of effective educational supervision, focusing particularly on the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee. This relationship is, perhaps, the most critical part of the learning experience. An abundance of literature discusses its importance (Bogo 1993: Fortune et al. 1985; Fortune and Abramson 1993; Webb 1988).
The supervisory relationship has a tremendous impact on the development of the supervisee and the effectiveness of supervision. In simple terms, a positive relationship is likely to result in a productive learning experience, and a poor relationship is likely to result in a negative and less productive experience. Therefore, supervisors should do their best to implement strategies to maintain a productive supervisory relationship: a context in which the supervisee is challenged to try out new skills, attitudes, and interpersonal behaviors—essentially, to take chances. The supervisee needs to feel comfortable to be open, ask questions, and risk exposing him- or herself (Gitterman 1989). This can only be accomplished in a trusting, straightforward, and respectful learning environment.
This chapter presents strategies for promoting a positive supervisory relationship. It begins with an overview of the centrality of the supervisorsupervisee relationship, considers it as an interdependent social system, discusses the importance of attending to the affective components of supervision, and promotes open discussion of the supervisory relationship as a way to teach and learn about relationships and to resolve relational difficulties.