My Journey thus far…………………
I have just completed my first 8 weeks at NJH and what a whirlwind it has been already! As someone who is totally new to residential childcare, I am just at the start of my journey and have so much to learn.
I spent my first few weeks getting to grips with the daily running of the house. I spent time with the staff and young people listening and watching how various staff members had their own way of interacting with the young people. I watched how the young people responded to different team members and witnessed how relationships are used to work with them on a daily basis. After gaining a general understanding of how NJH runs, I began to think about my own approach and about what kind of childcare worker I wanted to be (I am still figuring this out). It was reiterated to me by different staff members was to never try and be someone else and to always just be myself. This was really helpful information, as I often found myself adopting other people’s methods when I was unsure of my own.
During the next few weeks I had an intense period of training which I lapped up. I felt that the more knowledge I had the better equipped I was to deal with different situations and thus become a better practitioner. Through the training and partly due to the nature of the job, I began to analyse my own behaviour. I started recognizing when I was feeling uncomfortable, when I was enjoying what I was doing and when I was not. I also noticed things that I would avoid and other things which I was happy to do. In noticing these things I have been able to work on them, getting advice from other staff members and being reassured that everything I was feeling was normal. I was also reminded that this is not an easy job which is the honest truth albeit none the less worth doing.
As it stands I am gaining confidence in my practice and have a better understanding about the role of a residential childcare worker. Personally, I have started to understand my own values better and how this impacts not only the decisions I make but how I choose to interact with the young people on a daily basis. I feel that although I have developed some knowledge about the way I want to work, my challenge in the coming month/years will be putting it into practise. I have a long way to go and also respect that my own ideas and opinions will change as I continue to learn. I look forward to developing my theoretical knowledge and putting this into practice. I understand that there will always be an element of learning and development in this line of work which I think is really positive. Our Service Manager Greg keeps reminding me that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to BEGIN to have an idea about what our role is as residential childcare workers. He also directed me to have a read at Jack Phelans ‘Stages of Child and Youth Care Worker Development’ which has been really useful in understanding the journey that child and youth care workers go on. I have enjoyed the challenge so far and am interested to see where or who I will be in a year’s time.
To summarise my development I have devised a list of 12 things I have learned in my first few weeks as, how Leanne would put it, “A wee Resi Worker!”
- How good it feels to drive aimlessly around with the windows down blaring music.
- One serving of pasta is 57 grams. (I learned this after me and Lauren made enough macaroni to feed the whole of Johnstone one night!)
- The things which are so important for our young people (love, belief, trust, consistency and respect) are things which are important in any relationship and are just part of being a decent human being.
- The significance of touch, be it a pat on the back or a hug, should not be underestimated.
- Electrical problems can sometimes smell like rotten fish! (who knew?)
- It is not about winning……. Ever!
- Noughts and crosses are far more complex than I realised!
- In the minutia of daily life, there are opportunities for great learning.
- Lists are the glue to any residential worker’s life.
- All behaviour is communication.
- People do not learn from people they do not like.
- I cannot MC for toffee!