I've been feeling stuck with one project recently. After our team meeting today I still haven't shed that sinking feeling in my tummy and as I was looking for a bit of guidance on making my usual 4 Fs a bit more meaningful I came across this website that I will be using in the future.....
Rather serendipitously I decided it would be out with the 4 Fs and in with the "integrated reflective cycle"....
Just a bit of context:
This reflective post captures my thoughts about a participation project in a semi-independent hostel.
I go to the hostel once a week for 5-6 hours. The idea for the art project arose as some young people were talking about the feelings and personal meanings covered up when saying "I'm fine"...
when actually the person is feeling Frustrated, Isolated, Numb and Emotional....
As it captured quite well my experience of building relationships in the home, I decided to make masks with different emotions that capture this way of being: one masks represents the actual feeling and its reverse represent the facial expression used to cover it up....
Every week when I go in the home we work a bit towards creating this, but it hasn't really been received enthusastically.
So back to my sinking feeling and finding a way forward...
Leaving work at 9 pm and feeling that I'm exactly at the same point in my relationships with the young people that I was when I came in, or the week before.
Well, this is not strictly true as i've had a great trip to a spray can shop with a young person who is now saying he is feeling confident to go back there himself. This is a positive for him as he's been staying in, spending a lot of time in the kitchen and the lounge. I've spoken with a staff member about ways in which he could gradually become bolder and dare working on a graffiti project using those spray cans. He was showing us how to use them, has made great stencils for them,but at the minute he feels confident to paint over what he's already done on a piece of wood.
So with him, I feel I'm getting somewhere. There is change, reciprocity in the relationship, and possibilities for the future.
It's with the other young people that i feel stuck: those who choose to come in the kitchen to get some food when they know others won't be there, or those with whom i only have short "how are you" conversations that don't lead anywhere.
Or that young person, who says she will come back in an hour or so when i tell her i'd like to talk to her about things we were discussing the previous weeks, but then doesn't.
I know I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing and I feel terribly guilty about it. After all, there are only 9 young people in the house (a "hostel" for young people aged between 16 and 21 years old that seek accomodation from the local authority under s. 20 of the Children's Act 1989).
So, how do I change this?
Reflection on action
A few ideas going round in my head....
I'm trying to come to a point when the young people will give me ideas about what to work towards. I do this by being present, open and responsive towards them. The reality of it is that I have only brief conversations with most of them, that it's quite likely they do not know what my job is about; and that my anxiety at not being good enough makes me very tentative during those interactions.
There is a mismatch between my intentions and my inaction.
I spend a lot of time appearing busy by engaging on "art projects of my own". The rest of the staff team works on it when i'm not there, but i'm very vague in the guidance I give them. This is because I have got only very tentative feedback from the young people about it.
I had several of those very short conversations with young people, and I was thinking of telling them what i wanted to do, right there and then....
I only spent 10 minutes planning the session, while on the bus. I wrote down:
-trip to spray painting shop
-talk about careers, mentoring opportunity and what the Care Convenant's meeting was about. Idea around giving them feedback on what employers can do to help them get into a job.
Planning....I knew it was lacking but the extend of it is quite apparent here.... So having at least 2 hours before hand to plan what I will be doing is necessary. When can I do this? Probably on Tuesdays....
Broadcasting Intentions. That aspect of AMBIT practice seems to be coming back againg and again. I need to do it more. Again it's about bringing in more tools to my bag, so that I can do it more spontaneoulsy...
In general, I am learning that I am not that great at improvising!!! But that often I have plans to remedy things, away from the situation. It's hard for me to draw on them fully while with the young people, unless I choose a couple and commit to using them for a certain amount of time.
I am also learning about the impact that trying to combine both PhD and full time work has on my work.....
What will I do before next Monday?
-Write a letter to that young person telling her about my ideas, make sure she has my professional number
-Communicate verbally and in writing with the staff team that I am going to finish the "I'm fine conversations mask project" and move on towards the "what do you want from your employer/us/your PA to support you when you work" project for the Care Leaver's Convenant (CLC).
- I will create a session plan for next monday that will have: how to communicate with all young people about the CLC, what I think they can get from it, and 2 creative activities that involve going out of the house that can be carried out straight away.
What else do I need to do?
-Go back another day to finish the "I'm fine conversations mask project", that means hanging it up and reflecting on it.
What could I do better next time?
Tell the young person that I'm conflicted between letting them get on with their own things, which I can see is important to them, and spending time making sure they know why I'm there.
Explain what I have done in other homes in response to young people's ideas, such as:
-redecorate your room project. This helped him finding ways that we both could explain to the staff team why gaming was so important to him. We wanted them to understand he's very serious and realistic about it.
-plan a holidays, find money to go on it and do it
-go to court with a young person, and take time afterwards to think of the other jobs he could do as the sentence he got meant he couldn't keep his delivery job.