With less than three months with MacIntyre I’m still classed as one of the “newbees” but I was asked to write about some initial thoughts and early experiences, so here goes…
Interestingly, to me almost every day feels like a “new beginning” – partly through the continuing learning process I go through by trying different techniques to best engage each learner – especially on those days that don’t always start well, or go to plan… we all have some of these.
Also, the phrase ‘new beginnings’ is very much what any of the learners go through. Sometimes we start by wanting to learn a new subject, learn a new skill – only to find that through increased confidence we want to increase our learning further, maybe change our hobby or even our job. Many people call this progress through access to appropriate opportunities and identified goals.
So, I actually feel very lucky and blessed to play a small part in our learner’s journeys and isn’t it a joy to witness the huge potential we ALL have – if we are just given a fair paced-out chance.
Sarah was hit by a car and has been unable to play any real part in her community; job put on hold, social club a bit busy and could put her at risk and plenty of pain bringing on tiredness, not to mention all the fuss one gets in the first two-weeks then it can go a bit quiet with friends, even family afterwards. The result can easily lead to boredom and a feeling of low self-worth.
Well Sarah has been great, with just a little encouragement from me she has met a springer spaniel called Hector, when we did the ‘seven bin walk’ (a target of three bins to start with).
Feeling less than enthusiastic about writing down meal choices for the week, Sarah selected two new healthy menus from recipe books; Beef Daube and Chilli Chicken. Writing down the ingredients was a natural way to improve writing skills and spelling, helped by using a lot of rhyming words. It was a privilege to be shown some family and pet pictures, but we were able to turn this into a Maths exercise by calculating the equivalent; dog years, cat years and even horse years.
The other picture is Sarah making a special Rainbow Cake for her family. We shopped for ingredients one day, and then cooked with healthy colourings the next day… only trouble was the cake mix whisker was taken out of the bowl a shade early splattering the supporter (me).
Sarah has a housemate Nicole and we have developed our own language, when we both need a bit of cheering up or waking up, by leaving out the first letter of each item-word at breakfast or lunch time. We need a ‘ poon’ and ‘ owl’ for the ‘ oup’ (spoon, bowl, soup). Good mad fun and one way to reduce anxiety… if this is lurking about. On another occasion, Nicole and I drew three balloons about certain types of anxiety felt in a new situation, then three open boxes for various coping skills and ideas.
[on line: MoodJuice is a good self help booklet for helping reduce anxiety, based on CBT, and SAM is a great Free APP, standing for “self anxiety management”].
Charlie, who I’ve been supporting, with a great experienced team, has really been like watching a flower bud coming into bloom. There are times when I don’t get it right: “you’re speaking too loud”, “you said this place was just around the corner”, “where were you?” (When I’m in the same room, but stepped back to give Charlie space as he has started a great conversation with some of his peers). I often think: “Wow, Charlie is showing so much promise – Charlie is going places”. Two examples: a brilliant interview for possible (later) voluntary work at Trussell Trust and instigating a conversation about a new music group with three like-minded learners (could be a goer).
There are times, many of them, when humour, an achievement or something said reminds us why we love doing what we try and do in MacIntyre and why Great Interactions are so important. A recent example: Charlie said twice to me quite clearly, with a massive smile on his face: “I’ve made some friends – heh!”… “Wow – I’ve really made some friends.”
Community Learning Facilitator
Wiltshire No Limits and St Andrews Road