Playing with SuperVision

I am so grateful to one of our families this week for bringing up a question and concern around supervision!   This kind of open communication with each other supports our thrive at school.

I was reminded of this last night as I watched Margaret Heffernan’s TED Talk Dare to Disagree.   One thing I took away from her was that our approach to seeming conflict can powerfully change our experience of it!  Heffernan sees conflict as an opportunity for growth.   Here is a little bit of what she says: 

When we dare to break [the] silence, or when we dare to see, and we create conflict, we enable ourselves and the people around us to do our very best thinking.  Open information is fantastic, open networks are essential. But the truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it. Openness isn’t the end.  It’s the beginning.

Wow, this was really true for me this week!  I’ll explain some of the creative thinking that ensued from the supervision conversation in this post.

As I engage with children, families and facilitators in our community around concerns, questions or seeming conflict, I can experience growth, more connection and more clarity from our interactions.   As a parent myself who has long sought a school space that trusts my child and that trusts me as a parent, it is really important to me to honor concerns, questions and intuitive ideas from all community members.

So here is a little background information about how we think about supervision at Roots.

We have some basic boundaries that children know and then we have some wiggle room.  The wiggle room is where our conversations around supervision usually muddle about!  Just as in many homes, as children grow, their boundaries grow.   Also as we get to know the individual children we can change our practices to meet their needs: who is likely to want to be off by herself and so would need our special attention to her whereabouts (even it is just going under a table), who really likes to stay with an adult anyway, who presses the boundaries and needs our support to stay safe.

With children of all ages our trust in them is a very important piece of our work in creating space for their ideas, their freedom and their empowerment.   We trust that children are capable, insightful people.  We watch and observe to see where support is needed before jumping in and offering it.  We want kiddos to take risks and try things out within the loving container of our space and community.

We also try hard to trust our own highest instincts to discern how to support children.  In the case of supervision I most like my decisions to be made from a place of Love/centeredness/connection rather than fear.  From the outside I don’t know if this looks different or not!  But from the inside it feels very different.  It feels very good to me to be near the kids as they play and work at school because I want to offer support for physical and emotional safety as needed (and I also want to support their ideas, document their learning, etc!).  This feels different to me than wanting to be with them to prevent xyz danger from happening.

Alongside my own feelings and those of children, I trust the intuition of other parents in our community so much!  I want parents to feel totally good and at ease about a child being at school.  I generally have no problem offering additional supports  when a parent expresses a gut feeling about support needed.  The important change I need to make is always a change within my own mind and heart- the outside practice with children (and adults) then flows with ease.

 The opportunity with parents this week led me to play with and change my own thinking around the idea of supervision.   I have sometimes come to the idea with mistrust and evaluation.   In the past I have sometimes thought that supervision is at odds with freedom as a power over others kind of activity.   Now I am tweaking my relationship with this word and so with my experience of supervision!  Here’s how:

 I realized that the word supervision holds some fear-baggage to me, and I usually think of the meaning as watching to be sure things don’t go badly.  An alternative  way to think about the word could be the two parts super-vision.  Super could be connected to the supernatural,  the spirit-minded, the metaphysical… Super as in the highest.   Vision is a little more obvious: this is seeing, our way of seeing the world.  Studies in metaphysics have long taught that our power as observers, as she who sees, changes that which we see.  So SuperVision could be to watch others with our highest mind!  For me this is from a place of spirit, connection and Love.   I would adore to offer SuperVision for our children at school in this light- to SEE them Truly through a highest sense of Love.

This tidbit of creative thinking comes because of the opportunity provided by openness not only to an idea just like mine, but openness to questions and concerns that might have at first felt disruptive to my thinking.

4 thoughts on “Playing with SuperVision”

  1. What a beautiful way to define the word SuperVision! I love this. I feel so strongly that the best gift a child could have is trust. I want to teach children to trust themselves & their intuition. I also value safety. I really enjoy reading about how you’ve seen the question of supervision as a fun opportunity to open up new possibilities for how you see SuperVision as aligned with knowing and trusting ourselves.

    When I make decisions at school regarding safety, I have to do a lot of my own work to make sure I am coming from a grounded and centered space as well (as opposed from a fear place). I’m getting better at doing this with ease and reading stories like this help me to remember how important it is to do my own work. The best way to support others to listen to their inner guidance (or intuition) and to trust themselves is to model it!

  2. Thanks, Lacy! This is really beautiful and clear.

    So often when asked about what I do, I use words like “witness” and “see” (in the Thich Nhat Hanh act-of-love sense). And so often when communicating with concerned parents, I share observations and reflections…signs that I’ve been paying attention (etymologically related to “being present”) to their child.

    Because bearing witness is what I do, and “Are you seeing my child?” is the question underneath many others parents ask. All this language points to a kind of loving watchfulness that I would never have described as supervision but am now glad to describe as SuperVision. Thank you! And thanks to the parents who asked what was on their minds 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading, Abby! Yes, I often think of this as my main work, or the work from which everything else unfolds- seeing kiddos in their true light. I am grateful for the first teacher that did this for my own child. It’s hard to describe sometimes, but I knew it and understood it even then, which was a long time before I had any of these words to articulate 🙂

    2. Thanks for reading, Abby! Yes, I often think of this as my main work, or the work from which everything else unfolds- seeing kiddos in their true light. I am grateful for the first teacher that did this for my own child. It’s hard to describe sometimes, but I knew it and understood it even then, which was a long time before I had any of these words to articulate 🙂

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