Friday, November 07, 2008

Ah, the joy of working with professionals that know how to communicate

I have been really struggling with my job to the point that apathy was starting to get in the way of my quality of service. In social work, there are always ebbs and flows of challenging times that make it difficult to want to come to work and do the job well, but recent months have been especially difficult. In this academic school year, the school I primarily work at has obtained a new principal and new support staff. I was optimistic that we would after a short period be able to redevelop a working team, but this has not occurred. Perhaps I have been spoiled in the past or perhaps I am still a little naive regardless of my experiences. But, I feel as though I went from a healthy working team to a team that is non existent.

Recently I have been made aware one professional I work with daily experiences misunderstandings and inappropriate judgements which are directed at me. This is no surprise, given the way she communicates with me. And although I feel I am always tactful, I refuse to accept someone's statements if I know they are not fact. I am confident in my skills in direct practice and in my history of positive working relationships with other professionals, that I know I have not been inappropriate. In order to continue maintaining an appropriate level of communication, I choose avoidance. This isn't really all that healthy and does nothing for the daily anxiety I now experience going to work and dealing with confrontational situations on a regular basis.

But yesterday, I was reminded that the work I have put forth in my local community is recognized, and there is everlasting value to my work ethic and how I put it into practice each day. I engaged in a meeting with other professionals who came together as a proactive team, for the benefit of the child in question who hasn't had his needs met in the past. I was also encouraged for my efforts with this child. It's not that I need constant praise, but it is necessary for everyone to have occasional recognition of their efforts in order to have an increased validation in what they do. That's just human nature that everyone needs positive encouragement. It also propelled me to reflect on the issues I have had in working relationships recently. I reminded myself of my own capacities, my strong rapport with most of the teachers in the school and the relationships I have with my kiddos.

I know the rest of this year is going to continue to be difficult. It seems unavoidable given certain constraints and the impending closure of the school after this year. But, I also have reminded myself by leaving the work day yesterday feeling proactive and influential in assisting my kids, that I have an important and special job to do. I am getting better at it all the time, and rather than bail because I am getting my first-likely not last- taste of a toxic professional, I need to stick this out. I need to be with my kids when their school closes in May and assist them to transition on. If I can make it through this year, I will be able to move on to another school location, where I already spend one day a week. There I will have the support of an awesome team, air conditioned classrooms, and more wonderful teachers to work with. I think as much as I bitch sometimes, I belong in the schools. I love these kids and believe with the right support, the power of a positive education will do so much for them. I just need to keep reminding myself of that on the tough days. . . .

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