Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. Albert Einstein
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Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. – Sir Winston Churchill
So Howard what’s your take on the future of youth work?
So with the myriad of books out there how do you get a good one???
Look for three great ideas
When you come across a book in a shop dont just grab it because the title was good. Don’t grab it because you like the look of a couple of chapter headings flick through a few of the pages and find three great ideas. What you consider a great idea may not be the same as the next person but three makes sure you are getting a top read. For me its looking for three ideas I can impliment immediately in my own practice.
Check out the most recommended books on amazon.com
There are millions of books on amazon and at the time of this post there were 25,693 books which came up when I typed in youth work to there search engine. But don’t stop there. Read widely! Look at counselling skills, mental health, group work or any number of other areas of practice.
Check out a reputable review of books
If you are a team leader or a manager the guys at ManagerTools run a book review on their site. If you are in Australia the Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies has a monthly newsletter which also has a book review. If you are in Youth Ministry the crew at Youth Specialties provide regular book reviews of up to date books as well as a number of really cool resources. Here is one we recommend:
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Know your legal responsibility.
Know your own values.
Ask your colleagues.
What is my duty of care?
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You can also sign up to have our blog posts sent straight to your email by adding your email to the subscribe button on your right.
Reflective practice is by no means a new idea in the field but it is one that is not widely implemented. Reasons for this are wide and varied but are mostly end up being because people do not know how to do it or what it would look like. In university courses there is often discussion about being critically reflective and aware of your work however when a student becomes a staff member the critical thinking is left behind an ever growing wall of bureaucracy and paperwork. This often leads to frustration on the part of the staff member and in more extreme cases a complete break down in effective service delivery.
When I was a young youth worker I completed an internship with a small organisation that trained youth workers to work in schools. One of the most interesting aspects of the internship (and the one I most struggled with) was a forced weekly journalling session. Some of my best reflections on where I was at as a youth worker, what I needed to work on and how I practiced came during this time. However, I struggled with the exercise because I was not given a reason to do it. I struggled because I was not given a format or template to do it. But most of all I struggled because critical reflection was not something that had been instilled in me as a youth worker either in practice or study.
- To deepen the quality of learning, in the form of critical thinking or developing a questioning attitude
- To enable learners to understand their own learning process
- To increase active involvement in learning and personal ownership of learning
- To enhance professional practice or the professional self in practice
- To enhance the personal valuing of the self towards self-empowerment
- To enhance creativity by making better use of intuitive understanding
- To free-up writing and the representation of learning
- To provide an alternative ‘voice’ for those not good at expressing themselves
- To foster reflective and creative interaction in a group
Journaling provides a great base for the individual worker to begin to develop their reflective practice. Here is one template i have come accross that has worked over the years to help me reflect on my practice.
- Identify and describe the experience/issue/ decision/incident
Identify your strengths as a practitioner
Identify your feelings thoughts; values, feelings and thoughts of others involved
Identify external and internal factors; including structural/oppressive factors etc
Identify factors you have influence or control over and those you don’t ( do others?)
- Identify knowledge used:
Develop an action plan: what do I need to do first, second and third and so on
But what would this continuing professional development look like???
Over the course of my career I have had over a dozen supervisors throughout half a dozen or so specialities. Some of these supervisors were Youth Workers, some Social Workers, some Pastors and some drug and alcohol workers. Their qualifications had ranged from Diploma level to Masters degrees and one had no formal welfare qualifications at all. Not an unknown factor to those of us in the youth sector.
In Australia there is no requirement for a supervisor to have a professional qualifications. As a Degree qualified Youth Worker and soon to be Masters qualified Social Worker I have never attended a class on supervision, i have never heard a lecture on what constitutes good supervision practice and i have never had a supervisor who had either. At best my supervisors had attended a 2 day course in supervision and at worse my supervisors had less than a year more experience in the field than i had. So if there are only a few courses for supervisors and most of these less than a week long, how do you become a good supervisor???
The best supervisors I have had came from both ends of the spectrum. One was a qualified Social Worker with over a decade of experience who regularly attended courses on supervision. The other was a Youth Worker who had no qualifications but was an avid reader of supervision texts and attended every professional development opportunity focussed on supervision. The skill set that both of these supervisors had in common was and eager appetite to better their own practice as supervisors and a great ability to listen. The styles they used were different, the theoretical focus wide and varied and the outcomes specific to the needs of myself and my clients.
Maidment & Beddoe (2012) believe that supervision must be placed at the core of professional development for staff, “We want to place supervision at the heart of professional development, which is career-long and where, via diverse learning activities, practitioners refine and augment their knowledge, develop skills, and undertake supervision to enhance critically reflective practice“.
Do your supervisors support your development? If not you might be in the market for an external supervisor! What ever your situation if you want longevity in the sector studies show that you need a good supervisor.