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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bright Idea: Why You Should Supervise a Graduate Student. A Personal Experience.

Today is my graduate student intern, Kaitlyn's last day............... I am honestly SO sad! This experience was amazing and humbling. It was also one that I was very nervous about. First of all, this is my fourth year of being a school-based SLP. That may seem like a lot, but those in our field know how tough this job is! We truly are learning something new everyday. I've only had 3 years of experience since I've graduated. The thought of having a graduate student answer questions from, was scary. What if I don't know the answer? What if she knows more than me and I look ridiculous?  Yes, there were times when I probably didn't answer her questions in the best manner, and sure I may have looked ridiculous. But at the end of the day, we are in this field to help people. So why not help out one of our own by supervising a student!

Here are some things I have learned by having a graduate student: 
I learned by teaching someone else what I have learned. This truly is the most humbling type of learning.  I found that there are some areas I needed to brush up, in order to answer her questions fully. Which was great for me! It forced me to self-analyze how I evaluate, write reports, complete therapy, write goals, make decisions, etc.etc. Teaching someone else the little tricks that you've picked up along the way is a great feeling. In this job when we so often feel inadequate, its the littlest of rewards that truly mean the most! This entire experience has helped me become a better Speech-Language Pathologist. 

I sent Kaitlyn some questions to answer to get her perspective on this entire experience. She ended up getting some input from her classmates who are also completing externships.  

1. What qualities make a good supervisor?
 "Someone that is a good listener. The last thing I wanted was a supervisor that was so intimidating that I didn't want to ask questions. This is a learning experience, so yes, students will have lots of questions! Supervisors should be understanding and realize that students are still learning and getting the hang of things. Criticism is also necessary, scary, but necessary. Students need to know what they should work on in order to improve, however including positives makes the student feel good."

Quotes from classmates:
-"Someone who is willing to answer questions and wants us to learn."
-"Someone who explains the reasoning behind therapy."

2. What do you NOT want in a supervisor?
"I've talked to some of my grad schools friends and a few have experienced supervisors that put all the work on them. You still need to be there to supervise (or at least be in the same facility) and I've heard of supervisors leaving and putting all the work on the graduate student. Don't get me wrong, we want practice in treatment, writing reports, diagnosing, giving standardized tests, etc..and the more practice, the better!  "

Quotes from classmates:
-"Willingness to help when needed."
-"I do not want passive. I appreciate direct and honesty supervision."
-"Someone who just leaves and isn't helpful learning wise."
-"Do not want someone who expects I know it all before walking in."

3. What is helpful for a supervisor to know when beginning an externship? (Observation first? Or throwing you to the wolves to fend for yourself ;) )
"I am a very visual person. I think observing for one to two weeks and then slowly increasing the workload is ideal. If someone were to throw me to the wolves, I would feel overwhelmed and probably wouldn't do my best because I would be so stressed. You are trying to impress your supervisor, give the best treatment, remember everything you've learned...and it gets overwhelming! Every supervisor has their way of doing something, so being able to watch them first makes things much easier. Overall, we want someone who is willing to answer questions and wants us to learn."

And then the little muffin added this little paragraph that just warms my heart!

"Today is my last day at my externship and I couldn't be more thankful for it! My supervisor was great, she listened, helped me when I needed it, and we made therapy fun! I have learned so much from this hands-on experience and having such a good experience in the schools makes me want to come back! I look forward to my next externship (and my last semester of grad school!!), however it is going to be hard to top this one. I even know in the future that I can call/email/text Whitney for SLP advice and she will be willing to help! I am thankful Whitney decided to become my just wouldn't have been the same without her!"

All in all, why be a supervisor? Because not only do you get to help out "one of our own" in our field, but you could also gain a friend :)

1 comment:

  1. I could not agree more with this post! I just finished supervising a graduate student also and, like you, gained a friend. I got a little emotional reading your comments because my experience with supervising was equally as amazing. It was so much fun explaining the WHY behind therapy choices. Don't feel alone in being slightly intimidated...This is my 14th year and I also felt a little anxious before we started :) Thanks for sharing your experience! Emily {}