In undertaking this essay, I will set out to critically evaluate how I have been able to facilitate the learning of two different learners who I have had experience of supervising. To do this, I will introduce the learners, their styles and also include some background information pertinent to them. I will then expand on what an adult leaner is, some of the experiences that they can bring with them as well identifying some of the differences between this type of learner as opposed to a student how follows the traditional form of schooling.
I will explore why the use of a lesson plan was of importance when teaching learners. I will explore the different theories around teaching learners, whilst also identifying my own experiences of t the two students that I had placed with me within this essay.
My first student was a 25year old MA student who was in her final year of completing her social work qualification. She was a single bi-racial female who had amassed extensive experience of working with vulnerable people and was therefore able to bring her transferrable skills to the placement. The second student was a 38-year-old BA student who was completing her second year of her social work course and undertaking her first placement. The second student had two teenage children and therefore had experience she was unaware of in how to deal with challenging situation, but she didn’t identify as having any statutory experience to prepare her for the placement. These were two very different students despite having certain characteristics that they shared…..(quote).
To give context of the placement in which I would be supervising the students, it’s important to identify that both students were placed within my organisation which is a privately owned social enterprise in the East of London. The organisation is commissioned by a variety of LA and commissioning officers with London and surrounding counties. The accommodation provides accommodation for Looked After children who have been accommodated under section 20 and 31 of the Children Act 19819. In order for me to offer the learning opportunities to the two students that were placed with me, it was very important for me reflect upon my own experiences as a student (Fook, 1996), and how that had formed and shaped my ability to prepare for practice as a newly qualified social worker. I was also aware that both of these students had life experience and knowledge that equipped them to undertake some of the tasks they would be presented with during the placement (Rogers, 2002). I was aware that both of these females were coming and undertaking their placements for totally different reasons, however the common goal was to improve their career prospects ultimately. I was almost instantly able to identify a sense of motivation they both possessed as well as their preparation they had completed prior to starting placement. Both these learners were motivated, prepared and wanted a profession in Social Work (Williams and Rutter, 2014)
In order for me to be able to provide an experience to both students that enriched them and provided them with the necessary skills, it was also important for me to explore the negative experiences I had encountered as a student ad in practice setting as and this was therefore always at the back of my mind. Drawing on the knowledge experience and transferrable skills, I thought about what does it mean to reflect and be a reflective practitioner? I also questioned whether the students had the same stance as me, and if so how could we share those values to enrich the learning experiences. A part of the practice educator course, I was aware from the tuition that how I performed as a practice educator could and would impact on the students learning experiences (Hawkins, 2012).
My main objective with the students that were placed with me was to ensure that they were provided with an array of opportunities that could allow them to develop their social work practice and understand the role of a social worker. In order for me to do that I had to ensure that they were also able to demonstrate the professional capabilities framework (PCF) which was expected of them. A personal motivation was to ensure I contributed to the professional development of these students who would then become the next generation of Social Workers (QUOTE…..). In order for me to do this, I had to reflect upon my own experiences as student social worker and how I adopted certain measures such as anti-oppressive practice (Thompson, 2012) to encompass the ethics and values of social work and to also be able to identify and where necessary challenge oppressive practices that can sometimes be within the profession of Social Work. At the forefront of my mind it was also important for me to have a positive relationship with my students to ensure that they felt comfortable with me in sharing their views and any concerns they may have. Freire (1996) notes the importance of practitioners understanding the words that we use and how this can impact a situation or the recognition of oppression.
The role of an assessor as explained by McAbe and O’Conner (2014), is to adopt an approach that is conducive for students to learn and the teacher to act as a facilitator of learning. This lead me to think of the student-centred learning approach and the shift between student and teacher with emphasis on a. Greater ownership of learning. My role was to also assess the students that were placed with me against the competencies that they were to be measured against. AT the same time, is crucial that I as an assessor challenge the students whilst also ensure that I am able to build a rapport with them. (Bray, 2006). In that sense my role could be argued to be similar to a “judge’ and could have a negative impact on the student, depending on the implementation of my own experiences within this learning environment (Cassidy, 2009).
The importance of lesson planning was something that I appreciated during the course as it allowed me to understand why it was important for the students to be able to have a clear beginning, middle and end to allow for structure. I soon understood the importance of the three-part lesson that incorporated this fully (Fautley and Savage, 2013). Lesson plans incorporate a number of headings which include, Topic, Approach, Aims, Objectives, Assessment and Feedback as well as other important elements such as the time and location. It was important to recognise that each element has its own purposes.
The use of Pedagogy is extremely important when planning a lesson, as it explores adult learning theories. As a teacher, it is necessary to understand the varying ways in which students learn. Knowles (1980) was a pioneer in adult learning theories . Some of these include Behaviourist, cognitive, learning, humanist and experiential learning (Walker, Crawford and Parker, 2011, p38).
I used systems theory by Bowlby, as it allowed me to understand the varying components that impact on the development and progress of children given the setting of placement where the students would be based. Bowlby (1969) looked at the family as being system and explored the way in which the dynamics are constantly changing. Walker and Akister (2004), explore a different view of systems theory whereby they centred their approach on the importance of understanding the transactional approach that happens between family members when exploring the dynamics between the family and then by implementing a change in the behaviour for this to be effective.
I was aware that both students had some knowledge of this theory, but their exposure was at differing levels. This made me reflect on the way in which I delivered the information to the undergraduate student could not be as in depth as how it was taught to my master’s student. (Quote….)When teaching my students, I was very aware that they both came with individual learning styles and in order for me to ascertain this information, I felt that it would be useful to identify the learning styles of the students, therefore I undertook this task as part of one of our teaching sessions. VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinaesthetic (http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire, 2018). The test comprises of a series of questions that explores the learning style of the learner and how students could best learn. I tested high for visual and this may have been influenced by my own additional earning needs. I recalled the students both scoring high for Read/ Write. This allowed me to therefore think about how I would plan my sessions with the students to meet their needs.
Adults are known to adapt to their own learning styles depending on what they are being taught and what they are learning (Rogers, 2002). As a result of this a number of learning styles had been identified such as Activist, Pragmatist, Reflector and Theorist (Williams and Rutter, 2014). I know that I met the reflector category and although we had different learning styles to the students, I noticed some similarities and the way in which they would reflect upon why we were completing tasks.
I was able to reflect upon how I gained my own experience and competence within Social Work and I found that my past experiences of being a manger had placed me at an advantage in knowing how to interact and get the best out of my students. I was able to reflect on past experiences that I had encountered which have informed my approach when in a senior position (Schon, 1987). According to Shannon and Weaver (1949) Thompson (2003:12), they identified how information is processed through the connection between the transmitter (person a) to the receiver (person b). Weiss suggests the content of communication can be referred to as data or information is a perceptual screen.
Communication is crucial when assessing and teaching students. I found it interesting as I had both my students at the same time throughout the duration of their placements, and is I was very aware of their different communication styles. With both of my students it was important for me to ensure that I was adopting good questioning, as this is received to be one of the most commonly used social skills (Hargie, Saunders and Dickson, 1994). As part of my assessment of my master’s student, I employed the use of recall process by asking question such as “tell me what your understanding of systems theory is’. For my undergraduate student, an example of questioning used was ‘ what is impacting on the system when working with AA’, this used the process style of questioning and allowed the undergraduate student to think more deeply about the case of the young person we were discussing and the theory surrounding this (Hargie, Saunders and Dickson, 1994). In supervision I found this type of communication useful as it allowed both students to reflect on their practice and the theory attached, whilst using relevant cases that they were working on.
Fautley and savage (2011), refer to the use of formative and summative assessments being used when learning. In summary, formative learning is done with the learner and summative the latter part is assessing the overall work that has been completed. The assessing of students is an ongoing process and captures the full journey of a student’s placement, meaning the beginning (LPA), middle (midway review) and the end (portfolio) when the student presents the learning and objectives they have gathered through their placement.
Whilst it is necessary for the assessor to give feedback, it is also crucial for the student to participate within this process and inform the assessor of the feedback in relation to the teaching they had received. I invited both of my students/learners to undertake this task by providing them with evaluations sheets so that they could reflect on and evaluate the work that they had completed. (Williams and Rutler , 2014) indicate that this can include questions, listening to the students and making alternations for future lessons/ supervisions.
In terms of the feedback I have received from my practice assessor, I found that this has been very useful and helped informed the way in which I engage with students now and in the future. The practice assessor encouraged me to look more at theories and preparation for sessions with my students. She was able to identify that I needed to allow my undergraduate learner to take more of an active role and allow her to do ore talking. By undertaking this course in practice education, I have acquired the skills to deliver feedback to the students using the sandwich model. I would start by citing the positives, providing feedback on what could have been done better and what should be employed moving forward (William and Rutter, 2014).
I found the use of supervision incorporating formal and informal ways extremely helpful as someone who was being assessed and also the assessor to my own students placed with me. Caspi and Reed (2002), describe supervision as a method used for overseeing other people’s work, where the use of sanctioned authority can be employed. This made me think about the importance of supervision and how I would best utilise it in preparing the students who were assigned to me. Kadushin(1992), refer to supervision as having three key components which include administration, Support and Education. I was able to reflect and understand that my previous experience of management had given me an advantage at being able encounter supervision. In order for me to provide the most beneficial supervision to the students placed with me, I routinely reflected on my past experiences of supervision (Schon, 1987). In undertaking this practice education course, I think I became more attuned to the challenges that can be faced can be the confidence that some staff can have in leadership and management.
I recall having my first supervision sessions with both students and I remember feeling particularly anxious with my master’s student, This was not due to anything that she had done or any behaviours she had displayed. However, there was a sense of me questioning my ability to be able to provide her with the stimulation she would require and the responsibility that came with me being responsible in part for her learning opportunities. There was a sense of accountability which took me out of my comfort zone (Browne and Bourne, 1996). This was an entirely different situation with my undergraduate student, who I enjoyed looking forward to Supervision with as I always felt that I could offer her more guidance and wasn’t being questioned or where the expectation that I would know everything was present. Knott and Scargg (2013) refer to this as sometimes the assessor having unrealistic expectations that we sometimes place upon ourselves. I reorganised the power imbalances as cited by Browne and Bourne (1996), and also ensured that I was aware of this when undertaking supervision with my students as I was aware of the negative impact that this could have on them and their future learning.
As part of this essay, I have sought to explore the importance of planning for lessons with students, understanding the theories that inform the teaching with students and also identify the differing learning styles of social work practitioners and how this could be used when assessing and supervising students. I am of the view that by having two varied students and by me also being a student, it has allowed me to look at differences within individuals, how they can learn, what support may be needed as well as understand that assessing is an ongoing process which must continue to be developed. I look forward to being in. Position where I can have exposure to and experience of working with a variety of students to help inform their practice of social work by employing some of the theories, techniques and reflection I have captured within this essay.
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