Active Supervision

What is it?

Active supervision is the process of monitoring learning and performance of classroom expectations and rules that incorporates moving, scanning and interacting with students. The practice can also be applied to non-classroom settings such as yard duty.

Research states active supervision:

  • Has a positive impact on student behaviour in a variety of settings including classrooms, the yard and PE practical classes
  • Reduces incidents of minor problem behaviour while increasing appropriate behaviour
  • Leads to increases in student engagement
  • Allows for encouragement of students using expectations or appropriate behaviour

How is active supervision implemented?

Active supervision is a monitoring procedure that uses 3 components: moving, scanning and interacting. Active supervision, verbally and non-verbally, communicates to students the certainty that you do inspect what you expect.

1.     Moving

  • Continuous movement. This can occur during all 4 stages of the Gradual Release of Responsibility even whilst marking the roll
  • Increase your proximity to students who might be struggling to regulate their behaviour
  • Movement can be random and unpredictable if the class is settled so that students can predict your next move
  • Regularly move to areas of the classroom/yard that might pose challenges

2.     Scanning

  • Visually sweep all areas of the room to observe all students on a regular basis
  • Make brief eye contact with students in more distant locations of the room
  • Look and listen for signs of a problem
  • If working with an individual student or group of students position yourself so you can scan the entire room or stand up and scan occasionally before returning to work with the student/s

3.     Interacting

Interacting can take both verbal and non-verbal forms. See the below table which provides examples of both verbal and non-verbal interactions.

Non-verbalVerbal
SmilesEye contactProximityGesturesFacial expressionsBehaviour Specific PraiseRedirects (prompts back to task)Reteaching behaviour expectationsAssistance with learningLearning feedbackRelationship building conversations  

Interacting can also serve multiple purposes and teachers strategically select the purpose of each interaction based on their students needs at any given time. See the below summary of each purpose

Building relationships

  • Positive interactions that are friendly and helpful. These increase the likelihood of behaviour and academic feedback being taken onboard by the student
  • Demonstrate interest in students by briefly joining the topic of conversation before redirecting them back to the learning task
  • Practice listening, eye contact, smiles, pleasant voice tone and use of student’s name

Promoting behaviour

  • Behaviour Specific Praise: Immediate and contingent on behaviour, frequent delivery rate (5:1)
  • Corrective feedback: Calm, brief, immediate, respectful and specific to behaviour
  • Logical consequences: Maintain a calm neutral demeanour and be consistent across students displaying inappropriate behaviour

Supporting learning

  • Redirect students back to the learning task
  • Enquire where they are up to and probe for understanding
  • Use strategic prompts, cues and questions to guide students thinking (guided instruction)
  • Provide feedback on skill performance
  • Reteach skills as required (focused instruction)

Scenario TaskRead the following scenario in which the classroom teacher uses active supervision techniques.  Underline each example of active supervision.  On the lines below list which component of active supervision was used in each example.  See if you can find them all!

“The teacher Ms. Hailey directed the class to finish writing a paragraph by themselves.  She then moved slowly down the aisles looking from side to side quietly acknowledging the students for starting quickly.  She stood beside Enrico for a moment, as he usually does not do well with independent work, and praised him for getting started.  Ms. Hailey then stopped, turned around, and watched the front half of the class.  She continued to loop around the class, checking students’ work and making compliments here and there.” (Colvin, 2009, p.46)

Additional Resources

Link to Active Supervision Reading

Link to Active Supervision Self-Assessment Tool

Link to Active Supervision Video tutorial


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