Saturday, September 28, 2013


So I got a phone call yesterday from my student's practice teacher that they are not comfortable in their placement.

We are going to have a face to face meeting with the student to discuss.

I had a feeling. They've only been in one handful of days so far and it has been difficult to engage with them, and I haven't been sure how to even read them. They are a very quiet person but I have also been chalking that up to their being nervous, unsure of their role and just a little overwhelmed with what may (or may not!) be going on around them. In my program, tasks are not easily laid out. A lot of it is what you make of it---cultural stuff may be at play too.

Since I run several groups a day, I know how overwhelming that can be to someone who has never run them, let alone someone young and brand new to the field entirely. Because of that, I have been letting the student just observe a lot and a couple times they actually said "And this is social work related how.........."

I also told the professor that I suspect the issue may be that the student is a completely different cultural background from everyone else in the program, including me, an older female superior, which may be a huge part of the reason for their lack of comfort.

She was feeling the exact same thing.

The school DOES want to try to make it work because there really are so many learning opportunities where I am, and in the "real world" it's rare we can pick and choose who our co-workers and clients are going to be. Not only that but I work at a VERY desirable agency, so professionally, we could end up being the link to eventual employment.

So we shall see what will come of this. It's hoped that the student will be open-minded enough to see the bigger picture. And it is still SO SOON. Don't they say at a new job, on average it takes 3-6 months to start to feel at ease?

I have already decided however that if they don't want to stay, I'm going to drop the SIFI class for now and not request another student, until MAYBE spring semester, if not next year entirely.

And then I think I can see the benefits of having someone who is a second year student so will throw that idea out there too.

If you are a field instructor have you run into similar issues with new students?

Any advice?

So far I've given them a couple of tasks and assignment that I hope will help them to see how important my program is for clients and their families. I also hope that the assignments will open their eyes up a little more to the elements of social work that are VERY apparent.

I still haven't received back their first assignment however (one page summary of what they are hoping to get out of placement this year) so that too is concerning for me.

Perhaps they aren't the right fit if they are already this "difficult" (and I HATE to even use that term) we say as social workers....if we are doing more work than our clients.........

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little surprised to think of your student questioning the relevancy of groups to social work. Groups are an important element of social connection, skill building, and overall recovery for many clients. I do remember however from my own student days that I had some pretty set ideas about the work I thought I would be doing, and learned very quickly that I was way off. I hope things work out for you and your student!!