GREAT EXPECTATIONS – WHAT DO MENTEES WANT FROM THEIR MENTORS AND THEIR SCHOOL?

Today we have a new blog post from one of our fantastic authors, Jonathan Gravells, author of Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week. Here he explores what exactly mentees want from their mentors and their schools.

Agreeing clear expectations, at both and individual and school level, is one of the proven ingredients of successful mentoring. Here are some expectations that would come at the top of our list.

6 things you should expect from your mentor

  1. Credibility & competence – There are skills and knowledge associated with being a good mentor and you should expect your mentor to have taken the trouble to acquire these. Do they have to have more experience than you as a teacher? Well not necessarily, as plenty of successful peer mentoring partnerships can demonstrate. However, mentoring partnerships often benefit from mentors having different experience, as this enriches the learning.
  2. Willingness to learn – Competence does not mean your mentor knows it all. We can all get better at what we do and your mentor should role model this. Furthermore, in the best mentoring partnerships the mentor learns from exploring their mentee’s experiences too.
  3. Attention – Good listening is important of course, but great mentors do so much more than this. They give their full attention to their mentee, in an effort to really understand what motivates, frustrates or frightens them, and to find ways forward that will really suit them, rather than simply conform to some established formula or standard.
  4. Empathy – Because they have taken the trouble to really understand what makes you tick, great mentors will be able to put themselves in your shoes and realise why you respond to situations and events in a particular way. But they will also remain objective enough to help you question these responses.
  5. Challenge – So, empathy and supportiveness are key to good mentoring, but we also learn from having our assumptions and preconceptions challenged. The best mentors help us to tackle things we might not otherwise have had the confidence to address.
  6. Freedom to be your best self – Great mentors do not impose their strategies or recipes on you. They acknowledge that good teachers are not all stamped from the same mould, and the most successful ideas and improvements will be those that suit your personality and strengths.

6 things you should expect from your school

  1. Clear purpose for the mentoring – Unless your school is clear about what it wants to achieve from mentoring as an institution, then what kind of message is it sending mentors and mentees?
  2. Proper evaluation and improvement – Demonstrating the impact of mentoring, justifying the continued investment of time and money on this aspect of continuing professional development, and finding ways of making it work even better will reinforce everyone’s commitment to the process.
  3. Proper training and ongoing support – As the recent National Standards for ITT mentors rightly point out, mentors (and I would argue mentees) need not just adequate initial training in the skills and techniques of mentoring, but processes to ensure continued improvements in practice.
  4. Time – Unless schools find ways of allocating sufficient time to mentoring as part of staff development, the evidence suggests mentors and mentees will struggle to maintain commitment to the process.
  5. A positive environment – Another crucial observation from the National Standards is that mentoring can only thrive in the right environment. This means a sensible separation from performance assessment and monitoring , demonstrable support from the top, and respecting the need for mentoring to take place within a safe space.
  6. Agreed definition and ground rules – This positive environment will benefit significantly from clarity around mentoring roles and responsibilities and the basic ground rules governing these learning conversations.

Jonathan Gravells, Director of Fargo Associates, January 2017

If this blog post interests you, why not look a bit further? Details of Jonathan’s Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week can be found on the Critical Publishing website. In addition, why not have a look at the other titles in the In a Week series; Lesson Planning: Getting it Right in a Week by Keith and Nancy Appleyard and Behaviour Management: Getting it Right in a Week by Susan Wallace.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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Who are you? The Power of Self in Newly Qualified Social Worker Practice

Today we have the second blog post from our NQSW, Daniel! Have a read to find out his thoughts on the importance of self as a Newly Qualified Social Worker.

Maclean (2016) argues consideration of self is a vital aspect of critically reflective practice. I am developing my sense of self as a mindful, reflective, and self-aware practitioner. I have reflected how I identify with the concept of the ‘wounded healer’ in my journey into social work education and post-qualifying practice (Brown et al, 2016:76). As a former user of secondary mental health services and practitioner with lived experiences of mental health problems, I bring several positive insights into my professional role. For example, experiential learning as a service user myself and the genuine rapport these experiences developed. Furthermore, as a man in social work I am in the minority. Several authors (Brown et al, 2016:83; Turner, 2016:18-19) acknowledge this gender imbalance, placing an emphasis on how men can make a positive and valid contribution encouraging the celebration of positive male identities in our profession.

Moreover, I am a practitioner with dyspraxia and Irlen Syndrome. Dyspraxia is a recognised disability and ‘a form of developmental co-ordination disorder, a life-long condition affecting the organisation of movement, perception and thought’ (Dyspraxia Foundation, 2016). Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder which effects the brain’s ability to process visual information (Irlen, 2015).   My professional identity and sense of self consists of one that contains multiple differences and strengths.

            These differences bring with them several challenges and opportunities. There is the challenge of reasonable adjustments as outlined in section 20 duty to make adjustments of the Equality Act 2010. I have experience of the intrusion of assessment alongside the relief of appropriate and helpful intervention. I have been deemed eligible for several adjustments to be made to my work environment such as provision of a job coach, specialised computer speech-to-text software, a smart pen and coloured overlays. The opportunities this sense of self offers is abundant such as awareness raising of specific learning difficulties within social work, building on the work of charitable organisations (Dyspraxia Foundation, 2016). There are opportunities to feel more supported, comfortable, and competent in the workplace. These challenges make me seek opportunities to use my creativity and resilience to influence the workplace making a difference for myself and others (Adams and Sheard, 2013:54; Howe and Caldwell-McGee, 2016:93).

In her model of reflection, Maclean (2016) encourages consideration of goals in practice. My goals for this practice were to achieve the reasonable adjustments to my workplace which I am entitled to and eligible for. I acknowledge that others’ goals, specifically my assessor and line manager, aimed to facilitate and support me achieving these. Consequentially, this could lead to more efficacious support of and practice with the people I serve.

            Finally, the use of self in newly qualified social work practice is powerful. I believe if we combine the appropriate use of legislation with critical reflection, resilience, and self-awareness we can develop into confident and competent practitioners. I feel more help is needed for male practitioners in social work to do the work and continue to build gendered alliances with people in practice.

Daniel Wilding, Community Mental Health Practitioner/Social Worker, December 2016

References

Adams, J. and Sheard, A. (2013) Positive Social Work: The Essential Toolkit for NQSWs. Northwich: Critical Publishing.

Brown, P., Cook, M., Higgins, C., Matthews, D., Wilding, D. and Whiteford, A. (2016) ‘Men in social work education: building a gendered alliance’, in Bellinger, A. and Ford, D. (eds.) Practice placement in social work: Innovative approaches for effective teaching and learning. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 71-87.

Dyspraxia Foundation (2016) Join the Foundation. Available at:  http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/what-we-do/join-foundation/ (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Equality Act 2010, c. 15. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/20 (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Howe, K. and Caldwell-McGee, P. (2016) ‘Managing the personal: from surviving to thriving in social work’, in Keen, S. Parker, J., Brown, K. and Galpin, D. (eds.) Newly- Qualified Social Workers: A Practice Guide to the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment. 3rd edn. London and Califomia: Learning Matters/Sage, pp. 85-107.

Irlen (2015) What is Irlen Syndrome? Available at: http://irlen.com/what-is-irlen-syndrome/ (Accessed: 11 November 2016).

Maclean, S. (2016) ‘Whatever the weather’, Professional Social Work (March), pp. 28-29.

Turner, A. (2016) ‘The Great Divide’, Professional Social Work (July/August), pp. 18-19.

If this post interests you and makes you wonder about the thoughts of NQSWs, why not look a bit further? Starting Social Work: Reflections of a Newly Qualified Social Worker by Rebecca Novell offers a fantastic insight into the thoughts and feelings of NQSWs. More details about the books can be found on the Critical Publishing website.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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Preceptorship as a viable alternative to the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment

Introducing our new social work blogger! Today we have a great post from our new social work blogger, Daniel Wilding. If you are a student or newly qualified social worker, this blog post is a great read for you!

Have a read and see why.

I am a newly qualified social worker employed as a community mental health practitioner in an assertive outreach service.  I am currently undertaking a preceptorship with the support of my preceptor and practice supervisor (Lalonde and McGillis Hall, 2016) because my employer does not support the optional Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) (Kent, 2015).  The weather model of critical reflection (Maclean, 2016: 28-29) is useful for reflection. This model shall now be utilised in an exploration of how a social work preceptorship can be a useful alternative choice of employment and early professional development for student social workers on the cusp of qualification.

Maclean (2016) asserts that relationships are critical on which to reflect in practice. I have enjoyed the opportunities to build relationships with colleagues in my multi-disciplinary team of community psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, an occupational therapist, art therapist and psychotherapist, a clinical psychologist, assistant practitioners and several support time recovery workers. We work with adults of working age who are recovering from schizophrenia in the community. I feel the relationships I have built with service users have impacted my practice in the following ways. I have seen how my support is valued and complimented by service users through significant life changes such as moving home and through a mental health crisis triggered by the stress of this transition. Elsewhere, I have seen how delivering support with activities of daily living is valued by a service user with chronic pain and schizoaffective disorder. Lastly, I have seen and heard how my knowledge and skills pertaining to section 42(1)(b)(c) enquiry by local authority of the Care Act 2014 has been sought from me by colleagues in psychiatry and the allied health professions in their work safeguarding clients.

Maclean (2016) encourages critical reflection upon organisation. In my view, there is a crucial organisational issue that impacts on my and our practice. My employer is an organisation that delivers health and social care from a primarily medical model. At a recent away day, our clinical psychologist delivered a presentation on the Recovery Star (Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise, 2015). Prior, she and I discussed the UnRecovery Star (Recovery in the Bin, 2015) as a counterpoint to the former because it is underpinned by the social model of disability. It was striking how my knowledge was shared within the team and the positive feedback this generated from colleagues. Reflecting this back to the organisation, I believe the recruitment of more student social workers and newly qualified social workers could benefit my organisation and improve the service because of our particular set of skills can help aid mental health recovery of service users.

In conclusion, it has been seen how a newly qualified social worker’s skills, experience and expertise can be a valuable addition to an organisation consisting of mainly nursing, medical and allied health professionals. A preceptorship programme can offer a stimulating and interesting career alternative worthy of consideration by student social workers seeking an alternative employment option to the ASYE.

References

Care Act 2014, c. 23. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/23/section/42/enacted (Accessed: 26 October 2016).

Kent, S. (2015) Assessed and Supported Year of Employment – questions and answers. Available at: http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_122527-3.pdf (Accessed: 30 October 2016).

Lalonde, M. and McGillis Hall, L. (2016) Preceptor characteristics and the socialization outcomes of new graduate nurses during a preceptorship programme. Nursing Open. doi:10.1002/nop2.58.

Maclean, S. (2016) ‘Whatever the weather’, Professional Social Work (March), pp. 28-29.

Recovery in the Bin (2015) ‘UnRecovery Star’, Recovery in the Bin, (no date). Available at: https://recoveryinthebin.org/unrecovery-star-2/ (Accessed: 26 October 2016).

Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise (2015) The Recovery Star. Available at: https://www.staronline.org.uk/star_mock_homepage.asp?section=152 (Accessed: 26 October 2016).

If this blog post is of interest to you, why not dig a little deeper? Positive Social Work – The Essential Toolkit for NQSWs by Julie Adams and Angie Sheard and Modern Mental Health – Critical Perspectives on Psychiatric Practice by Steven Walker et al. provide interesting and varied perspectives and opinions on the making of a newly qualified social worker. Further details of both books can be found on www.criticalpublishing.com.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at admin@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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Learning to be a Primary Teacher

The Carter Review for initial teacher training (DFE, 2015) identified the importance of core curriculum content for all teacher training programmes. The review highlighted the importance of all programmes embedding core content on aspects such as: subject-specific pedagogy, assessment, behaviour management, special educational needs and disability, planning, differentiation, child and adolescent development and professionalism. Carter also highlighted the critical role of the school-based mentor in ITE programmes and the need to improve the quality of mentoring.

My new book, entitled Learning to be a Primary Teacher: core knowledge and understanding, published by Critical Publishing in 2016, addresses much of the core content that Carter specified. It also provides a chapter on evidence-based teaching and provides ideas to trainees on how to access educational research. The theme of evidence-based teaching also runs throughout each chapter and trainees are introduced to some of the latest educational research which points to ‘what works’ in schools and classrooms.

Initial teacher training is currently experiencing a phase of transition. In addition to provider-led programmes, providers have in recent years accredited school-led models of training in collaboration with their partnerships, through the introduction of School Direct. Various models of School Direct exist and there is no one blueprint for how School Direct should operate. Postgraduate trainees now have more choice than ever before in relation to how they wish to train as a teacher. They might choose traditional university routes or School Direct routes. Some might choose to train through School-Centred Initial Teacher Training programmes (SCITT) and others might choose assessment-only routes. There is a highly prestigious Troops to Teachers programme as well as other routes such as Teach First.

The diversity of routes into teaching can cause confusion for potential trainees. They need clear, impartial advice on which route is best for them and trainees need to research what is available before they make an application. However, once they are on the programme trainees need similar core content, regardless of the route they have chosen. My book will provide them with the background knowledge that they need to start a career in teaching and it will raise questions for critical debate. The text is accessible and current and directly relevant to classroom practice.

Teaching is a challenging choice of profession.  Many teachers choose to exit the profession each year due to the demands of the role. Trainees will certainly experience stress and exhaustion during their training and may feel like they want to quit. However, it is important in times of stress to recall the reasons for entering the profession in the first place. Teacher make a real difference to the lives of children that they educate. Everyone remembers a good teacher. The best teachers motivate and inspire their learners. They change lives. This book will hopefully give you a step up into a deeply rewarding and interesting profession.

Is this acceptable?

Dr Jonathan Glazzard, EdD, MSc, MEd, MA, PGCert(HE), BEd(Hons)

Head of Academic Development

National Teaching Fellow. Leeds Trinity University

May is Mental Health Month

Good Morning!

Mental Health has recently, and rightly so, been the topic of hot discussion and debate. People are starting to research, understand and evaluate mental health, albeit with difficulty, to try and really help sufferers.

May is Mental Health Awareness month and we want to help shine a light on something that has been kept in the dark for a very long time.

Steven Walker, in the book ‘Modern Mental Health‘, has put together a series of mental illness accounts in order to offer an alternative and thought-provoking perspective. In aid of this month’s efforts here is an extract from Hannah Walker’s story- the full account is available here.

modernmentalhealth-web

Part One – The Human in the System

Chapter 1: A Survivor’s Story

By Hannah Walker

Introduction

My name is Hannah and I’m a survivor of the military mental health system, the NHS mental health system and a number of psychiatrists.  I suffer from bipolar disorder and PTSD, and I was diagnosed twenty years ago.  In this chapter, I will tell you some of my story.

I was adopted at 4 months into a loving upper middle class family who lived on the Isle of Wight.  I have a sister, also adopted, who is six years younger than I am.  Neither of us has ever wanted to trace our biological parents, because we were happy at home and didn’t feel the need to go meddling.  Both our adoptive parents are now dead, but they would have been quite happy had we wanted to seek our real mothers, but we thought not.  No point.

I went to the local grammar school, and left at the age of 18 having been Head Girl and having collected a few O and A levels – nothing spectacular.  When I was in the Upper Sixth, my best friend died; I later discovered that she had committed suicide.  I had the first of what were to be many, many episodes of mania and depression after that event and had some time off school.  The episode was curious – I didn’t know what was happening to me and didn’t really have the words to explain it to the GP.  All I could tell him was that all the colours went bright outside, and I felt a rush of panic and fear as though I could no longer remain alive and deal with it.  In that instant, I contemplated taking an overdose of painkillers – not so that I would die, but so that I could become unconscious and not have to feel the pain.  I couldn’t be alone, but I couldn’t tell anyone what I was feeling as it was impossible to describe.  The only time I felt “well” was when I was driving a car.  I slept with the light on as I couldn’t bear to be alone in the dark with just my thoughts for company.

My parents hadn’t any idea of what to do with me, so they sent me to my GP, and I tried to explain what had happened to me, without much success.  He diagnosed an extreme grief reaction, without much in the way of a clue as to my illness.  I became even more depressed and started self harming, making up the most outrageous stories as to how I had cut myself.  I spent hours with razor blades, slashing my arms to pieces, and telling the A&E department that I had fallen through windows/dropped a glass which had shattered/been hit by a hockey ball.  No one helped.  No one asked me if I was OK – not even the medics who assiduously stitched me up every time.  I was sent to an Educational Psychologist, but refused to talk to her as she had hinted to me that she thought I was self harming.  Far too ashamed to admit it, I reiterated my stories and told her that I was just very accident prone.  She gave up.

I pulled myself together and carried on as though nothing had happened, which sowed the seeds of later episodes

Please read the rest of the account here for FREE.

If you have a story you’d like to share then please do get in contact. You can reach me at hannah@criticalpublishing.com

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The Personal Tutor Self-assessment System

Good Morning people!

Today I have some great news- the authors of our book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor‘ have put together a FREE resource for you to use!

Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor-Front

A bit about the book

Personal tutoring and mentoring is often referred to as the support side of the teachers’ role. This text is therefore vital in ensuring outstanding practice in that field. Given the new Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare Ofsted inspection grade, this is a subject that is especially relevant to teachers in the current climate.

The book is relevant to any pre-service or in-service trainee teacher or existing practitioner with a personal tutoring role, a specialised personal tutor, manager or anyone in a learner-facing role within further education.

About the FREE resource

Ben Walker and Andrew Stork have created these two documents to allow their readers to continually self-assess their own practice and that of their institution. You can access these documents by clicking the links below.

Individual Self-assessment Form

Institutional Self-assessment Form

 

** Ben and Andy‘s book is NOW only £17 on our website– where everything is 15% off till the end of April…

So don’t miss out some great deals!

Meet Emily!

TGIF! The end of the week is finally here (hurray!) and with that is our last extract from Ben Walker‘s and Andrew Stork‘s new book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’. This extract is especially exciting because it demonstrates just how interactive the text is! So have a read, enjoy and without further ado, meet Emily!

Pg. 106: CASE STUDY, Supporting Emily

A support manager has received a safeguarding file about one of your learners, Emily, from the school she attended prior to college, and has suggested you read it. Below is an extract from a report in the file.

15 July

From Chris Wilkins, Head of Year 12, Shotley Park Secondary School

Emily was removed from the care of her birth parents at the age of nine. This was as a result of reported abuse and neglect. She has been in foster care since that time. There were behavioural problems at school resulting in an exclusion from her previous school. Emily has difficulty with authority figures and in taking responsibility for her actions. Emily’s emotional state can be unpredictable and she can overreact to situations if feeling threatened or overly pressured. The educational psychologist’s report suggested Emily has a younger emotional age than her 15 years nine months. Academically, Emily excels at certain focused tasks, more on the practical side.  Socially, Emily can find it  difficult to mix with new peers and tends to form separate groups, which can be with learners who are a ‘bad influence’.

Critical thinking activity 7

Read the case study extract and then answer the following.

  1. What are the key points for your role and how will it inform your support of Emily?
  2. How do you think other members of staff should be involved and what would you tell other members of staff about?

Discussion

Safeguarding reports come in a mixture of formats. They can be divided up under topic headings or dates or as continuous writing, as in our example. They may stick to facts or make suggestions about approach. There is a need for you to pick out the key points, and it could be good practice to do this with a support manager.

Complex case

At first, it can be easy to be daunted by cases like Emily and not knowing where to start. However, you need to remember that all learners, whether they have complex backgrounds and needs or not, all react differently. There’s also a need to not let such information unduly influence your view of an individual. Their past experiences may not adversely affect them in a new environment in which they may, hopefully, thrive. You need to avoid putting this in danger by ‘overcompensating’, and you should strike a balance between being aware of the issues, adapting your approach appropriately and seeing a learner like Emily with fresh eyes and giving her the same opportunity as any others.

Foster care

A good starting point would be to contact those who know her best, her foster parents, about support and approach.

Unpredictable emotional states

Communication with additional support is necessary. Receiving direct support relies on Emily’s consent, but strategies such as a ‘time out card’ and ‘cooling off period’ would seem to be relevant here.

Difficulty with authority figures and taking responsibility

As we have seen, your positive approach is about the young person understanding and investing in the process of improvement rather than dictating this to them. With Emily, your one-to-ones or PLCs will be important in reinforcing this. Since you are up against a history of resistance, you should not get disheartened if progress is slow and change is incremental.

Academically, Emily excels at certain focused tasks

You need to reinforce the positive with Emily and link that to positive feelings and beliefs in one-to-one meetings and conversations. ‘How can you do more of this?’ is the key reinforcing question to use with Emily when emphasising these positives.

Involving other members of staff

There is not a need to give the specific background details to other staff who teach Emily, for example the details of the abuse suffered. As we have seen though, you can take an advisory role for other teachers regarding teaching and group strategies for Emily and adapting your own group tutorial in a similar way. Additional support staff can aid her. There is a similarity to the additional support issues of the last section: considered communication is everything. Action plans can be drawn up, with additional support and possibly involving yourself, and ideally kept on the electronic learner tracking and monitoring system. This can, in turn, inform disciplinary meetings (where it is not to be used as an excuse for poor behaviour but rather to inform and be taken into account).

A final thought on safeguarding

Finally, these can be emotionally draining issues and you need to make sure you look after yourself. Structured offloading, where you talk about your most complex cases, can be very important in reducing the likelihood of taking your worries about these issues home with you, and to reassure you that you are doing the right things and all that you can.

Summary

The personal tutor role can feel all-encompassing, and a dizzying feeling can come from the sense that almost everything in your institution is of relevance to it. Moreover, when we start, not only do we not necessarily know the answers to the questions but we may not know what questions to ask in the first place! This chapter has, hopefully, addressed both of these issues by informing you:

  • which the key procedures for the personal tutor are;
  • what the procedures are and a good practice model for each;
  • how you and others need to operate within the procedures most effectively.

Moreover, you should now have the terminology in order to further understand and enquire about how things work in your institution.

If you want to be outstanding in the role and have ambitions to progress, you need to be a constructive enquirer of those around you including those in more senior roles. You’ll need the appropriate knowledge and language to do this. There will be more on the higher-level support skills to become outstanding in the next five chapters where we also discuss the bigger picture enquiries needed when you’re aiming to be outstanding.

We were feeling generous so that’s a slightly longer extract for you. Go to our website to buy the book and to check out what other texts are right for you!