SLP-A Supervision: More than Sitting in the Same Room

May 11, 2011
Sharon Soliday, CCC-SLP

Here are the notes from our Hello Live webinar session today with Brooke Unwin, EdD, CCC-SLP.


1. The goal of supervision of SLPAs is to increase skill level in a way that:
- Allows for learning
- Encourages them to verbalize needs
- Encourages them to set goals

Types of Recommended Feedback:

2. Immediate feedback (right after session)
a. Research shows that feedback during and/or immediately following a session was more effective for growth than feedback that was delayed until the end of the day or longer.

3. Be specific, not general
a. Not: "you are so great with kids" or "You do such a good job"
b. But rather: "I like how you gave very clear expectations of your students when you said, "when you finish ten words, you can jump on the trampoline" or "I really like how you paid attention to the child's needs rather than your lesson plan and allowed yourself to take a few minutes to empathize with the student."

4. Provide both positive and negative feedback.
a. Positive feedback is important in accounting for the SLPA's needs---also to show empathy and understanding of the learning process
b. Sandwich Technique: a great way to offer constructive feedback that feels good to the SLPA and that reminds you to give both positive and constructive feedback

5. Provide BOTH Verbal & written feedback: written feedback allows you both to review past feedback. This allows you to see growth & change as well as provides documentation of a lack of growth or follow through should you need that information.

6. Self-reflection
a. Remember the goal is for SLPAs to be able to identify their own strengths and challenges and devise appropriate plans for improvement
b. Help your SLPA develop goals for improvement in themselves (1-2 goals to work on until the next review)
c. An easy way to start any conversation regarding feedback that allows for self-reflection is to ask them to tell me one thing you would change in the session & one thing you would keep the same (Research shows this increased the effective behaviors & decreased the number of ineffective behaviors in treatment sessions.

7. Have Regularly scheduled meetings increases follow through of the commitments made during the conferences.
a. Be sure to carve out specific times for meetings with your SLPA to provide feedback to SLPAs. For example, put it in your schedule. This way, you are automatically offering a time for them to ask questions, and for you to offer feedback. As opposed to having it be awkward when you all of a sudden ask to schedule a meeting.
b. Along with that, have a process for documenting your conversations and action plans (increases follow through)

8. Pay Attention to the supervisory process
a. Specifically discussing the process with each other will help both parties get what they need from the meeting and facilitate growth and change.
b. Allows you to pay attention to the changing needs of the SLPA over time (as they gain more experience, the supervisory process can be modified, but not necessarily reduced)

9. Allow SLPA to be an active participant in the supervisory process
a. Through self-reflection
b. Encourage them to ask questions
c. Encourage them to set goals for themselves

10. Use Formal Evaluations: Use a formal broad based assessment of skills expected from your SLPA as an overall competency development assessment.
a. Allows you a way to talk about all aspects of professionalism with an SLPA. These obviously include aspects like clinical skills, data collection, etc., but also allow a natural  way to have discussions around other, potentially more difficult areas to talk about:
- Interpersonal skills such as being receptive to constructive feedback, communicate sensitivity to students & families
- Personal Qualities: punctuality, respects confidentiality, personal appearance
- Technical Skills: maintains documentation, uses time effectively, organizes treatment space appropriately, selects treatment materials ahead of time
- Give them a copy of it before you use it so that they know the expectations you have of them
- Complete it on a regular basis (at least 3-4 times a year).
- Have the SLPA fill it out & you fill it out so you can compare your perceptions with those of the SLPA which can lead to productive discussions and allow for self reflection.