We want to thank you for accepting to supervise one or several of our students during these difficult and tumultuous pandemic times. Without your help and support, students would not have been able to proceed with their practicums. It was a great success and the School of Social Work is very proud to count you as our partners. We hope that you are in good health and are keeping up with all the demands.
The university has had to adapt to offering most of its activities on line since last March. These changes have been challenging. With this first edition of our Newsletter for Supervisors, we want to share some information and tools that could be useful to you in your supervision role as well as professional development opportunities. Most activities are taking place virtually at the school and at the university. We are also adding testimonies from a supervisor and her student who completed a placement during the fall of 2020 facing the new challenges of virtual placement and supervision.
Please feel free to share this Newsletter with your colleagues and in your networks.
Important dates for the School’s field placements:
Field placements coordinators will contact you a few months before each of these placement blocks to request your help in accepting to supervise a student.
-B.S.W. 3rd year : January to April 2021
-M.S.W 2nd year : January to April 2021
-M.S.W. 1st year : May to July 2021
-B.S.W. 4th year : September to December 2021
Activities of the School of Social work:
- Social Work Week takes place virtually from March 1st to 5th. All activities are presented in French. The main theme is : Ensemble, outillons-nous pour un renouvellement des pratiques en intervention sociale. (Together, lets develop tools to renew our practice of social intervention) There are many new activities, to view the full schedule and to register: https://sciencessociales.uottawa.ca/service-social/ecole-bref/semaine-national-travail-social.
- The main conference will be on Wednesday March 3rd from 6 to 8:30 pm. The title is: Pratiques anti-oppressives : contrer le racisme et les discriminations dans nos interventions (Anti-oppressive practices: how to counter racism and discrimination by our interventions)
- There will be an advanced workshop titled: Le modèle de supervision à distance (A model for distance supervision) on March 25 th from 12 to 1pm. Registration info to come soon. It is necessary to have followed the initial CNFS workshop: The Art of Supervising Trainees as a prerequisite. Contact person: firstname.lastname@example.org
CNFS English Supervision Workshops:
- The Art of Supervising Trainees is a collection of five “basic” and three “advanced” workshops. These stand-alone workshops are offered online, free of charge. These workshops are intended for professionals who wish to perfect their knowledge and improve their skills in supervising students. https://www.cnfs.ca/professionnels-de-la-sante/workshop
- Recognition Program: Supervisors' Contribution to the Academic Community, ÉCCU: This program aims to highlight your contribution to the academic community by awarding you ECCUs (Equivalencies for Contributions to Colleges and Universities) based on activities in which you choose to participate. When you participate in supervisory and training activities, you may collect ECCUs. For more information and to register https://www.cnfs.ca/recognition-program
Other useful resources linked to the pandemic and work place stress:
- International Federation of Social Workers, Banks, S., Cai, T., de Jonge, E., Shears, J., Shum, M., Sobočan, A. M., Strom, K., Truell, R., Úriz, M. J., Weinberg, M. (2020) Ethical challenges for social workers during Covid-19: A global perspective
- Centre for excellence PTSD; Moral Stress Amongst Healthcare Workers During COVID-19: A Guide to Moral Injury
- TRAIN is a national learning network that provides thousands of quality training opportunities to more than one million professionals who protect and improve the public's health
- THE ROYAL, Six Ways to manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19
Videos and Ted talks :
- CASW Webinar series on various subjects including; Ethical challenges for social workers during COVID-19: A global perspective.
- NASW Social Work Talks: Podcast Self-Care for Social Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic; Kristen Lee
Testimonies: In this section, we highlight 2 short texts written by a master’s student and another by her supervisor.They completed a placement completely in virtual mode in the fall 2020. They have agreed to sharing their thoughts in this newsletter.
Written by Naomi Abrahams, February 2021:
“ Social work placements provide students with the opportunity to put their learnings into action, outside of the classroom and into the real world. And though I did not ‘enter’ any physical real-world when I had my first placement, I truly felt that I was challenged in a way I didn’t think was possible. For a profession that is focused largely on interacting with clients, the way in which we have had to adapt due to the pandemic can seem difficult. However, I believe this experience, which placed me outside of my comfort zone, will be one that I look back on fondly as I enter the field of social work.
Point 1: We are all learning together
My supervisor constantly reminded me of the fact that we were both learning to adapt to at-a-distance work and her honesty played an important role in my experience, as I felt comfortable to reach out to her when I was faced with challenges, for I knew she too was having them as well.
Point 2: Learning non-verbal/non-visual cues
Much of my previous education placed focus on noticing body language, but seldom did we discuss noticing voice. Due to such, I began learning about paralanguage, such as tone, volume and pace. This was an important skill for me to develop being at-a-distance, one that I may not have been able to refine had I been in-person.
Point 3: Home becoming your workspace
Though my home and workspace became one, my supervisor constantly reminded me to go for walks, runs or perform other outside activities. Her stressing the importance of such allowed me to clear my head, and to take a moment for myself that I might not have done otherwise.
Point 4: Consistent communication
Having consistent communication with Nichelle, whether over text or video call, helped strengthen our student-supervisor relationship and helped me to not feel isolated! Furthermore, I was able to connect with other members of our multidisciplinary team more frequently, some of which I would not have spoken to as often had I been in person.”
Newsletter from Bruyère written by Nichelle Bradley-Laforge
The hidden benefits of Covid
On a dreary morning, a few months after the brutal arrival of Covid on our shore, a message flashed across my computer screen, which peaked my interest: “Would anyone consider taking a MSW student placement?” Being a social worker forced into the unusual position of having almost no social connections I, of course, said: COUNT ME IN!
While I had, in the past, mentored several university students, this was always done face to face in the comfort of my cozy office at the Primrose clinic. But that was then. Now, that I am stuck in my depressing basement with the provincial directive to limit interactions outside of my family bubble, this was going to be a different experience. All connections between this student and me had to be virtual, and for someone who is not tech savvy (you can ask anyone of our exasperated IT specialists) this was going to be a challenge. So, with a little bit of trepidation, I decided to take a big breath and dove right in, not knowing really what to expect.
I am happy to report that water was warm and I didn’t bang my head. The experience was overwhelmingly positive. While I have never met with this student in person named NAOMI (I still to this day do not know how tall she is), sharing my knowledge with her was a joy. But what really caught me off guard was that I was not the only teacher here. Through the insightful and thoughtful questions and remarks from this young mind, I was also learning. What was initially work became a true privilege. This brilliant student was now a part of my daily routine. What a joy! The social worker in me actually had a team member now. A daily human face to connect with. Her presence made my dreary basement more welcoming. We connected via FaceTime, Zoom and the telephone to do our psychosocial rounds. We prioritized emergencies and strategized on service delivery. Covid had created a temporary team for me and a very good team at that. NAOMI was actually a gem. She was able to wear with ease the lens of the ecomap and begin sorting issues and needs like a pro. It was a true joy to see her bloom. My basement became a class and a window in the new world of social work.
The request for social work services have almost doubled since Covid. My colleagues and I face that duty with compassion but it is an uphill battle and we are getting to be stretched thin. However, I am happy to report that the next generation of social worker are coming up and if my student is a reflection of the quality of our profession to come, I can confidently say: WE GOT THIS!
Note ecomap is a tool to assess the social mapping around individuals. Human contact is key and is certainly a part of the social determinants of health. Having daily contact is vital for the well-being of all. I thank this beautiful caring mind to have been a part of mine during Covid.
Nichelle Bradley-Laforge M.S.W., R.S.W.
Senior Field Placement and Education Coordinator
Field Placement and Education Coordinator