INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK
SCHOOL-BASED FIELD PLACEMENTS: A MONTREAL PERSPECTIVE Elena Kruger Abstract The placement of fieldwork students in
regular school settings Is new for the Special Care Counseling
Department at Vanler College. Students’ perceptions of their placements
and graduates’ concerns about working in these schools are described.
The need for the Department’s involvement and interaction with the
school system is also considered. The Philosophy of Student Placement
SCHOOL-BASED FIELD PLACEMENTS: A MONTREAL PERSPECTIVE
The placement of fieldwork students in regular school settings Is new for the Special Care Counseling Department at Vanler College. Students’ perceptions of their placements and graduates’ concerns about working in these schools are described. The need for the Department’s involvement and interaction with the school system is also considered.
The Philosophy of Student Placement
An unwritten criterion but an explicit expectation Is that there will be opportunities for the graduates of our program to be hired by the agency.
The Department has always used selected segregated academic environments as fieldwork placements such as hospital-based classrooms for psychosocially maladjusted children and schools for Intellectually and physically disabled children and youth. Graduates of the program have always worked in these settings. Although one school board in the Montreal area traditionally hired educateurs, It Is the recent integration of pupils with diverse special needs into regular schools that has created employment for educateurs within the school system. Therefore, in response to this opportunity and need, in the past three years we have placed a number of students in regular schools.
Last semester (1990), students placed In regular school settings, as compared with peers working with children and youth in residential settings, began to state that they were not feeling useful."
To gain a better understanding of how school-based fieldwork students view their roles and their contribution to the school setting, a number were Invited to respond to four questions.
For each of these questions, a variety of selected responses by students are presented.
What is it like to be a Special Care Counsellor in a school?
· "I find that being a Special Care Counsellor in a school is quite confusing. My role is often misunderstood by staff and students. It became my responsibility to develop a job for myself which would satisfy my needs."
What tasks do you do?
Students provided a list which Included the following: crisis intervention, lunchtime activities, assisting teachers on field trips, individual counseling, group counseling, observing problematic children in the classroom, teaching social skills, helping pupils with academic work, conducting social skills groups and supporting and encouraging students in personal development.
What tasks make you feel good, and why?
What are you learning about working with people who have special needs?
Discussion: A need to clarify roles
Listening to these school-based educateurs, the faculty recognized that we, as the training agency, had to ensure that school administrators and teachers become aware of exactly what our students were being trained to do, and that we needed to begin a process of communicating with the school personnel about their particular needs.
Although employment opportunities for child and youth care professionals over the past 25 years have been well established in Canadian schools (Denholm, 1988), in the description of an ideal interactive team working In special education (Morsink, Thomas & Correa, 1991), there is no mention of other practitioners such as child and youth care workers. Regardless that this text is based in the United States, current educational literature does not mention other professional roles. What does this say about the understanding of this role and possible contribution within this setting?
In response, descriptions of possible functions at second and third year levels have been forwarded to school administrators and principals in the Montreal area and meetings with classroom teachers are now taking place. The Department has also requested that students be teamed with educateurs where they are employed. One direct benefit from this consultation has been the contact and involvement of students and graduates and the faculty at Vanier College supervising in schools. Certainly a strengthened level of collegiality has now been attained.
The current curriculum at Vanier, however, does not specifically address work in school settings. Students learn about the specific cognitive, affective or motor disabilities which may be encountered in a school-based clientele. They also study developmental psychology and methods of intervention as applied to individual and small groups of pupils. In addition, the weekly two-hour seminar and on-site supervision by faculty, as well as the feedback from the agency personnel are designed to stimulate students’ exploration and clarification of issues confronting them In this setting. Also, a faculty committee has been formed to examine the possible gaps in the current curriculum and to propose modifications within the program In order to more effectively prepare students for school-based settings.
Denholm, C.J. (1988). Hiring school-based professionals. The Child and Youth Care Administrator, 1(2), 17-20.
Morsink, C.V., Thomas, C.C., & Correa, V.1. (1991). Interactive teaming:Consultation and collaboration in special programs. New York: McMillan.
This article is reprinted from The Journal of Child and Youth Care Worker, Vol.6 No.2 1991, pages 17-21