Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Forays into the 21st century

Another really busy week starting with that last minute scramble to submit my essay before the deadline of Wednesday 4pm.  Re-sits are not an option for me as I have too much to do this summer! I was not happy at all with it and so I decided to get some help from the Study Skills tutor. I have been working in the Enquiry Unit today so I went along at lunchtime and took my last two pieces of work to discuss with the tutor why I am struggling so much with my written work.  He was really helpful and spent nearly an hour with me.  He says I am quite normal for a mature (how polite – I’m extra mature really!) student with lots of practical work experience and used to making firm decisions. After all, you can’t faff around at a home birth when you  have an emergency  situation in front of you! He explained how academic writing is like a bit of a game where you have to learn the rules and then be careful to cover all your bases with anything you say supported by evidence and sources and make sure to give all sides of the discussion. Often a conclusion is not a conclusion as such but just raises more questions.  I am such a solution focussed individual that this sort of ‘hedging all your bets’ stuff does not come very naturally for me.

I went back after lunch and Katrina, the orange haired fount of all knowledge that sits next to me managed to teach me how to do references using the wizard in  the new word 2010.  I only have the 2003 version at home so I found this new cleverness quite amazing.  She finds it amusing that I am so far back in the stone age the way I do most things.  I mean – I grew up learning to write with a stick pen and nib that you dipped in an inkwell at the corner of your desk!  At least it was a technological advance on a feather pen.

Anyway – Katrina is all excited because she won her position in the Student Union vote  - I expect her to be reeaalllly nice to me after I campaigned amongst my course students and got three votes for her – despite us all being mature and extra mature with a tendency to leave such things to the younger and, considerably friskier, members of the student body!

My school days were just like this and my plaits were too!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Happy Birthday Kate!

I am trying not to look at the keyboard as I am seeing spots before my eyes!  I have just returned from cycling over to deliver a birthday pressie to my little friend  Hebe who is 9 today.  She is looking forward to her party tomorrow -making potions, and dressing up with her friends.  My contribution is a box of very bright nail varnishes – yellow, orange, lime green and purple.  Of course she, her mum Chloe, and I had to try them all out and I have got back with each nail painted a different colour and covered in spots. Hebe’s little brother Herbie helped as well so a fair bit of my cuticle is also gaily painted.  How am I supposed to take my essay writing seriously today?

We have been having lectures in preparation for our last piece of work for this year.  This is to come up with a feasible research proposal.  It is important to get it right for two reasons.  Firstly; I have to pass it to process into the third year, and secondly; if I take the research option for the third year that will be the first stage of it . I know that unless it interests me, I will struggle to stay motivated to stick at it and produce a 15,000 – 20,000 word report at the end of it all.  I am beginning to think I may have the tiny seed of a topic so – watch this space!

The other option for the third year is to produce an 8,000 word piece that documents my professional and personal development as a counsellor in training.  Alongside this is a cognitive behavioural therapy training.  Originally I had thought I would like to do this option but I am now less sure.  Luckily I don’t have to decide yet.

On Monday it’s my daughter Kate’s 26th birthday – where has all that time gone?    As she is lives in West Sussex I have to wait until next Sunday to see her, after my essay deadline on Wednesday, but I have made her one of my usual crazy cards and posted it to her full of bits that will make a lovely sparkly mess when she opens it. Happy birthday Kate!!

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Joys of Spring!

Our first daffodil
Hurrah!!!  Spring is coming!  I am sooooo excited.  Our first daffodil is open and the hellebore is in full flower.  The sun is shining – for now – and I am about to hop on my bicycle and ride over to Blackheath for a birthday lunch with my friend - only three weeks late but isn’t it such fun having extended birthday celebrations!


Before that though I have to finish writing to you and do some more work on the dreaded essay with its deadline hovering over me like a gigantic vulture.  I must learn to embrace it as a joyful activity.  I could try sitting cross legged, eyes shut and  arms outstretched with fingertips together and humming few omms ….or not!!  A nice chocolate stout from Meantime’s brewery sounds more like it!

The academic year is rushing by.  I’ve now completed 60 of the required 80 client hours so I can relax a bit about that. I only need 20 more by June 1st.  We have to also complete 40 hours of personal counselling by the end of our second year.  I was really resistant to doing those because it seemed so weird to go to counselling because it is a requirement of the course, not because I wanted to sort something out.  Usually people go to a counsellor because there is something that is bothering them and they need support of some sort which I have done on a few occasions in the past.  I found it invaluable.  When I started my ‘compulsory’ sessions I started by telling the counsellor how weird it seemed and that I didn’t know what to do or say because I was only there because I had to be.  Poor woman – she has continued to put up with me in all my stroppiness! We are now at almost 30 sessions.  It has been helpful to talk about my experiences on the course, with my clients and with my placement and she has helped me put a different perspective on various things.

We finally know what is happening about work over the summer with the university and I have received an invitation to apply for full-time work for seven weeks. Him at home is being made redundant in May due to council cuts so the full-time work will be very welcome.  I really enjoyed working last summer, getting to know students from all over the university of different ages, nationalities and interests.  I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed it as I am not really a natural team type person.  I have been self -employed for so many years and used to working with a very small group of people.  I suggested him at home might like to tie up his spotty bundle, attach it to his stick and go off adventuring while I slave away but he says plaintively “…but who will be there with your pipe and slippers though?”  What a little petal!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Practising my Counselling in the Enquiry Unit !

Well daffoldils, it’s all right again to come out now– the sunshine is glorious today!  I can’t believe how much more cheerful I feel! I am working an extra day in the enquiry unit and the sun is streaming in the window.  It’s strange working on a Friday instead of a Monday as, being such a creature of habit, I am used to working with the Monday team and sitting in my Monday seat so although I felt rather discombobulated at first it has been lovely getting to meet new team members.  I am sitting next to Saziye today who is also writing her blog in between taking calls. She’s doing a BA in Media and Communications so we’ve had a very interesting discussion about the essay she’s writing on protest – does it work and if not why not?
Meanwhile I’ve been trying to think about my clinical concepts essay and not getting very far.  Saziye’s one seems far more interesting!     The calls are coming in thick and fast.  One caller was determined to share her life story with full graphic details of her entire medical history, another was begging us to change our minds about refusing her admission on a nursing course despite her failing her English and maths assessment.  I spoke to a woman wondering whether to move accept her place in a northern university to commence in September 2011 or  move down to London to start here in 2012 where she could have more family support for her young child.  Another young man has been accepted on a course but didn’t realise her would be based in Medway in Kent although all the literature states on which campus the programmes are based. My last caller insisted on being put through to speak to someone who wasn’t here and was having all calls transferred to us.  When I explained this she insisted that I was refusing to put her through and hung up. 
I think working in the enquiry unit is good practice for the practical aspects of my course in therapeutic counselling. One requires bucket loads of patience and diplomacy while keeping a sense of humour!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A pinch and a punch…..

It felt like spring was in the air a couple of days ago but I wouldn’t blame the daffodils if they decided to bury their heads back into their bulbs – it’s freezing! I was just getting ready to start my spring clean with that rare sunshine last week making all my windows look extra grimy and showing up all the little dust bunnies in the corners. I’ve changed my mind now and I’m going back into hibernation for a while.
While awaiting the results of my last project – a 3000 word case study, I am preparing my next piece of work - an essay on Clinical Concepts; another 3000 words!  This one is similar to writing a case study but where the emphasis last time was on a single case, this one is on the theoretical concepts using examples of different cases to illustrate our understanding of theory and how we apply it to our work. It feels like that the more I get through my second year the less confident I am feeling. 
It reminds me of the conscious competence theory, another name for Maslow’s "Four Stages of Learning," These describe how a person learns, progressing through these four stages
1. Unconscious Incompetence (you don't know that you don't know something)
2. Conscious Incompetence (you know you don’t know it)
3. Conscious Competence (you have some skill but have to think about it)
4. Unconscious Competence (you are good at it and it now comes naturally)

I was feeling at about stage three but I am now wavering quite severely between  2 and 3.  I am not alone as others on the course are saying similar things and I have heard that year two is the hardest one as it is so intensive.  The tutors said that year 3 is meant to be better but – not according to the year three students I have spoken to!  
Conquering those computer tabs!
I am now settling into my work each Monday on the phones in the Enquiry Unit.  Luckily most days I have been next to Jerusha or Katrina - both absolute whizzes and mines of information.  I kept getting all my tabs on the computer muddled up so I went in yesterday determined to sort myself out and master it all.  Katrina with the patience of a saint sorted me out and now I can navigate my way round the websites so much quicker – I think I even reached level 3 by the end of the day!  I can’t believe I have survived this long without knowing how to do tabs.  Maybe I will even be able to learn Twitter soon!