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First time in the field

2016

My name is Domenic Chiappetta and I am currently in my second year in Child and Youth Care Counselling at Mount Royal University. I just started my practicum in a school setting a few weeks ago, and I have noticed the teachers don't handle a situation, when a child is acting out, the same way we are being taught in our classes.
 
I am curious about how I should go about this situation because I am new there and staff have much more experience being around these kids?
 
Thank you,
Domenic
...

Domenic a great question and I appreciate that you are stepping back to consider what makes most sense for you to do for all involved.
 
Your curiosity will continue to serve you well in your practicum.  In fact if you combine curiosity with compassion, as you watch what is occurring, this may help you to frame questions that invite the other to share how they have arrived at the practice choices they are making.  It may be that part of their practice is based on the rules at the school and thus in some areas there is limited choice.  Or it may be experiences with that particular child or it may be that they know no other way.  They are also more likely to be more open to any suggestions you have when you have illustrated an openness to the practice choices they are making.
 
Just like anyone we work with consider that they are doing their best, that best can always get better and that you can almost count on all believing that whatever they are doing their intent is, in some way, to be helpful.
 
I hope this is helpful for you.
 
Janet
...

Hi Domenic,
 
I remember going through the same thing my first time in practicum and the advice I was given (which worked really well) was simply to ask. If it makes you more comfortable really play up the 'new to the field student' thing, but just remember you are there to learn, so ask the teacher why they feel that's the best approach. Don't do it in a confrontational way, just say you want to understand. As you said they do know the kids better and maybe their approach is the only one that works. Also, keep in mind every setting will have different rules and expectations (both stated and assumed) on how to handle different situations. Once you understand why the teachers are using the approach they are maybe you can try to come up with new ideas if you feel it's necessary. Keep in mind though different doesn't necessarily mean wrong. You didn't give all the details so I'm not sure what their approach is but that leaves open the possibility that it's simply different. One of the biggest things I think we have to learn in this field is to be open and adaptable. Situations like yours are the best way to practice :)
 
Good luck!
 
Megan Besner

 
As a practicum student, and without knowing the context of what's expected from your placement, I would guess that this is a time to observe and learn. Teachers are trained in different kinds of classroom management that may not look like the kind of approaches you've learned. The other thing to consider is learning in the classroom and learning in the field can look very different.
 
Instead of coming from a place of sharing with the teachers what you've learned (unless they ask), ask them about their approach to see why they do what they do. Then you can take what you've seen and compare it with your own values, and reflect on what kind of youth care worker you want to be.
 
It's definitely possible that you may disagree with everything the teacher does, and that will give you the awareness of the traits you don't want to have. It doesn't mean your ideas don't have merit and value, because they definitely do, there will be time to put them into practice as you gain real world experience.
 
Just watch and learn, ask questions, reflect on why you might be reacting the way you are and how your own experiences in education have shaped you.
 
Evelyn Downie
Halifax, Nova Scotia
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