Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Check out antiSWer's comment to "Adequate is fine."
Judging student competencies is very difficult for some supervisors. My last practicum supervisor and I had lengthy conversations about the matter. The line between "meeting" and "exceeding" expectations wasn't clear to them. For example, in the area concerning understanding policy, they thought it had to do with how many policies I had memorized, rather than having an understanding about policies and how they impacted the work. It was very frustrating.
Frustrating indeed! Nothing kills our motivation to learn and grow more than unclear expectations. This also is a precursor to burn out and compassion fatiuge. This also points out the importance of social work faculty establishing clearly stated ways of measuring competence. I see the bigger challeng: keeping the focus on learning and not get caught up in the grading process.
How do you set standards that are good enough for yourself and others? How do we keep our eye on the process of learning and growing and not get caught up in the details of the way we are evauated?
Photo credit: by ShellyS


Mel said...

I had similar struggles in my student social work placement; feeling like it was somehow 'not okay' to be a learner and a 'social worker in progress' - because I had to meet some criteria that my university or supervisor might set. I was constantly wondering whether I would be seen as 'competent' by my supervisor. Now my priorities as a worker (as opposed to a student) is what is best for my client? How can I take steps in my own professional development?

antiSWer said...

Yes, the school has a large part to play. My faculty rep was wonderful, but the supervisor just wouldn't engage with them...they were almost defensive. It was the weirdest thing.

I'm very glad that in my MSW practicum, I will have a supervisor who has decades of practice, teaching and supervising experience.

As for the question about learning vs evaluating, it's very difficult to do in a class setting, that's for sure. I had one teacher who really tried to put the emphasis on learning...collaborative learning!...and the class was so oddly resistant. When we're in the moment, grades are so important...looking back, not so much. I got a lot of top grades in my BSW, but a good chunk of the real learning came in some classes I did not so wonderfully in... ;)