Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Training, Observing, and Believing

The majority of my time at present is divided between training my interns (who are all in the first semester of their social work master's programs) and working with school leaders to collaborate on driving attendance rates up among chronically absent students. I want to instill in my social work interns a belief that people can change, because from my viewpoint you need this belief to be a motivated, effective social worker. Since I trained as a community organizer as well as a social worker I also know that observing neighborhoods can offer a lot of information about the different economic and social needs of communities. So I want to have my interns also start using this approach, by observing the specific culture of our school and the Lower East Side, as well as the students' family dynamics. It is still early in the school year and I am new to the Lower East Side, but I can see already the key factors impacting our students: poverty, lack of parental involvement, parentifying of children (a situation in which children and youth take on the role of caregivers), and teenage pregnancy.

On another note we had several students achieve 100% attendance in October! We created certificates acknowledging their attendance which will be awarded to the students at a school-wide assembly. These seemingly small efforts go a long way in improving students self-confidence and belief in the value of education.