Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back To School

Yep, mid-August means back to school for me... I've been back since Monday. Now, sure, it's a bit depressing to have to go back to work during the first week of rain-free weather we've had all summer, but... there are some positives, too.

No, really! Stop laughing and pointing!

Being the only social worker in a school like mine can be challenging for a whole bunch of reasons. We have students from all over the world, with varying backgrounds and histories, many of whom lug some pretty serious baggage along to school with them every day. As the only social worker, I'm the only person in the whole building who "speaks my language"... no one else has received the type of education and training I've gotten, particularly around issues of how trauma, learning disabilities, emotional issues and so on can affect a child's ability to cope and learn in a school environment.

Now that I've been where I am for a couple of years, I decided to make an effort to share what I know with the rest of the building. At the end of last year, I approached my school's principal with an outline for a series of workshops I wanted to run for the teachers. I'd cover topics like bullying, teacher burnout, managing aggressive students, dealing with resistant parents, the effects of emotional issues on a child's behavior/ ability to learn, and so on.

Well, it looks like it's all systems go. I cleared the idea with my principal, and also with the powers that be in the school department... it sounds like I'll be able to get participants some necessary 'professional development points', and will even get a small amount of compensation for the extra work/ hours. (Not a whole lot, but some!) The head honcho in the professional development office even commented that if this year goes well, I might want to consider teaching the workshops in the new teacher's academy!

Of course, I'm proud of myself for coming up with the idea, and for taking some initiative - it's definitely going above and beyond my basic job requirements. However, I'm also very nervous... will the teachers be interested? Willing to open their minds and look at things from a fresh (and totally different) perspective? Are they already too burned out to give me a chance? Will they say, "what do YOU know about teaching... you're not a teacher!" or, "you have only been in the schools for 6 years... get back to us when you've been here for 30 years... THEN you might be able to say you know something!"

Ahhhh, the what if's are killing me here! And to add a bit more pressure, my principal wants me to cover two of those topics (teacher burnout/ self care AND adolescent psychosocial development) in TWENTY FIVE minutes... ON MONDAY! WHaaaaaa? Entire college courses are taught on child development! I am going to go ahead and do my own thing... offer a teaser amount of info and try to drum up interest for the workshops.

Jeesh. That'll teach ME to show initiative.

Cross your fingers for me, will ya?


Gigi said...

Fingers crossed. Those sound like great topics. I'll bet there is some interest!

KnittingKnirvana said...

Congratulations!!!! Many teachers truly appreciate a social worker's perspective. And many old timers appreciate a youthful energy and a young, fresh perspective. Even if they dread being there and have negative feedback, at the right moment they will remember something that you taught them and it will all be worth it! Remember, you have very valuable insights to offer them, whether they are into or not! Please keep me posted on how it goes!!

Amanda said...

Aah, i hope you are both right! And since one of you is a teacher and the other is a social worker, I know that you know what you're talking about! :)