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Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I'm not sure it would be helpful to go into the whiney specifics because I've already covered it in different threads and it must be getting boring. To summarise, I'm on an MA in Social Work course (fulltime) and have started my first placement at a really good school for children with complex learning difficulties as well some with a physical disability.

I'm in my sixth week there (3 days a week) and if I'm super honest I don't really know if I have the skills to be a student social worker. Lately I've been feeling completely useless and during my supervision with my placement supervisor and the headteacher they kept going on about how important coping strategies are (because I'm dyslexic and dyspraxic) and how I need to buld up my confidence. During this placement I have been super shy when usually I am just 'shy'.

I felt a bit ganged up on at supervision sometimes and made a lousy defence that I've never worked with this age group (nursery/early years) and I felt that I'm really good with the children and just for the hell of it added in that I'd probably make a really good teaching assistant. But I guess that's where the problem lies, I'm not a TA. I'm a student social worker and should be chatting with parents and other professionals but so far I havent really felt the need or have thought of anything to say. I go blank.

I guess I am rambling a bit yet again but I know that people do believe in me, for what it's worth which is zilcho. my mum thinks i'd make a good social worker. i was sat in a meeting with one today and thought she was a bit of a bitch really to the parents and well, i'm not. i worked really hard to get onto this course (spending summer repeating maths gcse in order to get a stupid grade c), there were quite a few hurdles during the interview and I got in, I worked in the wonderful care sector for 9 months for the experience and still have nightmares (yes seriously). so I think that I deserved my place.

but now the cons discincluding my complete ineptness at placement:
we have to do a research project for our dissertation. so far nothing is interesting me. every potential title i pick is a sociology title, it has nothing to do with social work as my tutor keeps telling me. maybe this is a hint??

and so my options as far as i can see include:

drop out (bye bye helpful bursary ie. rent) maybe bye bye future? i found it difficult enough to get a job during christmas, not sure if i can pick one up again. no idea where i would go next.

or. switch to pt. which..doesn't solve all my problems. a massive chunk would be taken out of my bursary, i think.

keep going no matter how painful it is and however much i want to punch myself in the face for being so shit in all 'real life' situations.

go talk to someone. who? i dont want to cry or be judged and told that i'm shy. i hate it when people do that.

i really dont think im made for the real world. and i dont think im cut out for anything bordering on a 'career'. i'm gonna hit the submit button now before i get any more self-pitying.


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    mate don't really know what to say, I don't feel qualified to give you advice on what to do re: dropping out etc but I'm doing a pgce at the moment, which is really difficult and I have come up against similar hurdles.
    e.g., not feeling suited to the profession, not being as confident as others, having completely different approaches to others, have had other people kind of doubt what I'm doing, and basically just had a massive amount of self-doubt.
    it all came to a head this weekend and (combined with personal problems) I wanted to drop out and die because I couldn't see where my life would be going, or what I would do, couldn't face the thought of trying something else (have tried 30 million other things before now) and basically felt like a massive failure that wanted to get in bed and not wake up.

    then I came clean, talked to my uni tutor and tutor at school, who have all been actually amazing. Been to the doctors this morning and am now sat in the uni counselling service offices. I know your experience may not be the same, and they may be dick heads who say you're just shy and patronise you and come up with no helpful suggestions about what to do - but how will you know if you don't try?
    if they are arseholes then hey, youre in the same position and will need to consider dropping out/changing courses but at least you've tried the other option of asking for help.

    That's what I think anyway, mine have been super supportive and they really didn't seem like they would be.

    hope you're okay anyway lovely xx
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    thanks for replying kezia :)

    i know that is probably what i should do, i just am dreading if i get emotional/receive negative feedback from a tutor. also if i get tearful then i will look like the stereotypical emotional wreck that shouldn't even be studying a programme like a masters in social work.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If you can't have reflective discussions with colleagues/seniors, then you're going to have serious problems as a social worker.

    You really need to 'come clean' as Kezia put it, and talk honestly to your tutors and mentors about the problems you're having. This needs to be about the problems you're having in general. You go on and on about your dyslexia & dyspraxia - but they aren't going to go away, they're always going to be there. To become a social worker you need to find a way of coping, as you tutor has already said. What it sounds like you're lacking at the moment is some of those coping skills - so this is where your course & your tutor need to do their thing and help you learn and develop your skills. To get that though, you need to be honest with them.

    Tell them you're struggling with confidence, and find out if they've got any suggestions. That might be working out what it is that you can do at the moment (you said you think you're good at being a TA, so start there) and build things up. You say you should be chatting to other professionals, can you start this by chatting through a case with your tutor/one of the others attending the meeting, before going to a case meeting? That way you get a chance to build up ideas and discussion on a 1:1 level which you might find easier and also having talked things through first, you might get more confident in contributing to the meetings.

    First things first, you need to stop struggling on in silence - and you need to stop using the dyslexia/dyspraxia as an excuse.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    an excuse for what?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think Scary Monster was trying, and failing, to delicately say that it comes across like you're hiding behind the dyslexia and dyspraxia as a reason why you're struggling. To an extent she may be right.

    Being honest, social work- especially with children- is a very demanding job and you need to have confidence and faith in your own ability and your own decisions. You need to be able to take the rough with the smooth, especially as there's a shitload of rough and not a massive amount of smooth. Without being in the meetings I don't know if you are being "ganged up on", but the way you write it comes across as though they think you are competent but that they need to see more from you. You cannot be a wallflower being a social worker, every decision you make is difficult with far-reaching consequences. They ask what your coping mechanisms are because you will need them in your professional life; when someone discloses horrible things to you, how will you keep yourself safe whilst dealing with them?

    I think the best way forward is usually to be honest if you are struggling. If you're honest you can work together to identify what you're doing well, what exactly you are struggling with, and what support can be put in place to help you. You're a student so they don't expect you to know everything so there's no shame in saying you're struggling. The real failure is to continue plodding along, never talking to anybody.

    I don't think that going part time would dramatically improve your situation because the underlying issues- a lack of faith in your own ability and a shyness resulting from that- are still going to be there. You need to be able to identify what the main issues are and what support you need. Your disability service at university would be a good place to start, or your students' union, or your course tutor. Seek the help you need.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Maybe you're both right. SM I'm sorry if my reply was curt because you've given me advice in the past which I appreciate. It might look like I'm being lame and excusing everything with the learning difficulties but sometimes it feels as though they are more apparent in the situations at my placement.

    I am taking the advice on board and emailed my personal tutor to arrange to speak to her but she is on AL till next weds. But I know I'm seeing my placement supervisor next Tuesday and have finally sorted my dyslexia tuition for next Thursday. It was supposed to be today but I'm ill in bed. Ugh.

    Artic I think youre right and I know Children and Families really isnt for me. It's all good experience I guess but its tricky to estimate whether c and f isnt my niche or Id be shit at the job across the board.

    I've been pondering not doing the research dissertation and exiting with the MA eventually (i thi.k) rather than being a newly qualified social worker. I think the skills would be transferrable to other rolez. Its tri ky. Hopefully I do.t get told/patronised outright when I speak to someone. Sorry for typos. On silly touchscree..phone.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Arctic did a good job of explaining the point I was trying to make.

    It comes across that you try and use your learning difficulties as an excuse for the problems you've been having in the placement. Your learning difficulties might be an explanation for the problems you've been having, but you can't use them as an excuse. To make progress, you're going to need to find ways of compensating for the problems you have.

    To give you a parrallel - I'm reasonably significantly dyslexic. I work as a process engineer, and part of that role means I have to produce and review technical drawings. Now, drawings I'm really really good with -they make perfect sense in my brain. But - every item on that drawing has a tag number, generally in very small writing and rarely the right way up. These are not my strong point, but getting them right is really really important. So, to get round my tendancy to rearrange numbers I've had to learn to compensate. This has included learning system numbers (which should match with the first few digits) learning legend types (which should match the next digits) and learning the numbering sequence. That way, I've got a way of sense checking what I've written down that doesn't rely on my copying ability.

    Independant of that - I used to be painfully shy in meetings and hated talking on the phone for work stuff (fine chatting to friends). To get around those, I started making sure I had prepared well. For the phone calls, that meant gathering together the information I needed and jotting a list of what I was aiming to ask. For the meetings, that meant doing my preparation well, going through the agenda, the reports, the data and making notes in advance so I knew I'd thought through what I'd be contributing. It never covered every eventuality but it gave me the grounding to start from, and once I'd started contributing to the discussion it was easier to keep going even if that was beyond my notes.

    Now, I will happily ring up pretty much anyone in the company, anywhere in the world (and I work for a very big multinational) and can argue my case against my boss (on a good day).
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