What’s left in your top draw while your on Christmas holidays???

Every year in the lead up to Christmas I get so excited about the time off that I have coming up that everything takes its slow excruciating time to get completed. Projects need to be wrapped up, budgets reconciled and my desk tidied so that everything looks neat. In the final throes of my work week before Christmas I begin to be overwhelmed by the growing mountain of work which hasn’t been able to be completed. It is around this time that I sweep my desktop into my top draw and hope it all works out until next year. 
 
 
 
The danger of this way of ending things is that after all that work building relationships our young people end up as a burden to us getting to our holiday. We are in such a rush to get out of the office (and sometimes rightfully so) that any interruption or worry that come from our young people is seen as the end of the world. But what would happen to your young person if while you are on holiday they get thrown out of home, or they are caught up in a family violence, or they become pregnant, or, or, OR! What would happen if those worrying behaviours came to the fore? What if while you are living it up with family or at the beach or in the mountains their life begins to crumble? What did you do in the last few weeks before you went on holidays to provide for them in their time of need… the one Murphy said would happen when you weren’t there.
 
Throughout the world there are many different ways of handling this situation, from having someone in your team covering your cases to employing an independent agency to take over. Perhaps you work in a church setting and most families will be away as well who is there to help? Another pastor, a deacon or another family? The point is you need to have a plan in place for the young people who rely on you and your counsel. If your organisation has a plan great, follow it and hope all goes well while you are sipping a Mai Tai. If not you need a plan. Here is our plan!!! Its not fool proof, but it has worked well for us in the past.
 
  1. Assess risk
    • Write a list of your young people and use the basic traffic light system to rate how at risk you think they are (GREEN = No Risk, YELLOW = Some Risk, RED = High Risk). If your not sure about a case chat with your colleagues.
    •  If necesary you may even need to do a formal assessment. You may do a K10 or an  AISRAP assessment or if further assessment is required get them assessed by a qualified health professional. 
    •  
       
  2. Impliment a safety plan
    • For those who are assessed as YELLOW give them a couple of names, numbers or online supports they could contact eg. lifeline, kids help line or counselling online (You will need to develop a list of contacts in your area that meet this criteria)
    • If you assess a young person as RED you could do the same as with a YELLOW, however you also need to up the ante. You need to make sure that you have a conversation with the young person stating your concern. Ask them to make a list of five people they could speak with or go to if there was an issue that arose while you were away. Ask to refer them to a specialist organisation such as a mental health, drug and alcohol rehab or family violence service if you believe the risk to warrant ongoing supervision. Take them to their General Practitioner and discuss the options with them. If necesary you may even make a statutory report. Make sure you document all the steps you have made as to cover your backside if anything goes wrong… because even the best laid plans can go awry.
     
     
    The most important thing is to make sure that what ever is left in your top draw will survive the holiday break. Just as you would not leave a piece of fruit in the top draw you need to be sure the things you leave in the top draw will be ok while you are away. Once you have attended to all the cases needed and ensured that you have done the best you can to make sure nothing and no one is left un-aided you are able to have a good break. Knowing you have set plans in place for your clients helps you switch off and gives you the freedom to enjoy your break without worrying and thinking about what else you should have done. You cannot ensure anyone’s safety fully but you can put in place plans to protect it as best you can.
     
    Now that the draw is clean, left with just the keys you want kept safe, have a great break and we will see you after Christmas … We are having a break as well. No post next tuesday the 25th.
     

Merry Christmas and enjoy some family time.

 

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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What will youth work look like in 2013?

Over the last couple of weeks we have had the pleasure of some amazing guests answering the question, “What will youth work look like in 2013?” This has been eye opening to say the least. Over the last two weeks we have had Shae and Stephen from youthworkinit.com and Professor Dana Fusco of CUNY and authour of “Advancing Youth Work: current trends, critical questions“. This week it is our honour to have fellow blogger and youth work professional Sam Ross. Sam is affectionately known as the teenage whisperer and much of her blog is devoted to how people can best work with young people, even the difficult ones. Sam is a resident of the United Kingdom and will provide us with a view from Rule Brittania.
 

So Sam what will youth work look like in 2013?

 
Think of the future and I know I always end up thinking about what gadgets we’ll be using, the new technology on the horizon. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this- teens with their unparalleled appetite for the new will be too. With the most accessible bit of tech for teens being their mobile phones (or cell phones) and with their love for them, we can be sure that they are keenly watching for what 2013 brings to phones. So if their eyes are on their phones and what new thing they will be able to do with them, should we be looking at what we can do with them, with their phones in our youth work in 2013?
 
 

Teens and their phones

 
Teen ownership rates are continually rising with a 2012 American study showing that 23% of 12 to 17 year olds own a smartphone and another 54% owning a regular cell phone. Every day 68% of teens text, 51% visit social networking sites and 11% send or receive tweets (Common Sense Media 2012).
 
It probably goes without saying that in 2013 even more teens will be in possession of a mobile and will be using them to text, tweet or do whatever the latest thing is. But why should we as youth workers care about this?  
 
More and more teachers and youth workers are adapting their work to embrace the teen love affair with their phones, rather than trying (and failing) to get them to switch them off. This is a trend that is bound to continue in 2013.
 
The social TV or ‘second screen’ concept is increasingly being used in sessions to change phones from being a source of distraction to a tool of engagement. So rather than young people using their phones to keep up with what is going on outside the session, they are being used to stimulate conversation on the session. So while watching something on a screen or watching a live in-person talk or presentation, young people are invited to submit opinions, questions and comments either by text or submitted on Twitter via hash tag to feed later discussion. This works really well to keep them on-topic, to get the verbally quieter ones contributing and to generally spark off debate.
 
‘Flash research’ is another application for phones in sessions. In the first ten minutes, groups go off and research the net, or text people they know to find information on a topic. So instead of youth workers bringing the ‘facts’ to the session (which always brings out the sceptic), young people show us what is relevant and important to them. This is hugely empowering for them as they feel they have a real voice and that a worker’s view or presentation of ‘facts’ doesn’t automatically trump theirs. The fact that they get to use their beloved phones also means that what might have been a relatively boring brainstorming exercise before becomes something of interest to them. 
 
These are just two of many examples of using mobiles in youth work. The embracing of cell/mobile phones in youth work sessions is bound to continue and expand in 2013, probably in ways which we don’t even realise yet. If we fail to keep up, we do run the risk of offering sessions which do not maximise teen engagementas they lack the cultural relevance which is so important to teens, and they could walk away, declaring us out-of-touch dinosaurs.
 

Timeless ‘tones

 
However, when looking to the future, when trying to predict and stay abreast of change we always need to be careful not to lose sight of what is really important, the stuff that is at the core of our work. We should never forget the timeless qualities that outlast trends and changes in popular culture and that keep our work relevant whatever medium we use to deliver our message.
 
So in 2013, even with the expansion of mobile interaction, quality youth work should look very much like it has done in the past.
 

Relationship, not just interaction, will be key.

 
Social networking and technical gadgetry have been accused of causing an increase in interaction but a decline in real communication. While there are elements of truth to this, technology when used well, can enhance rather than degrade our communication with youth. It can complement what any good youth worker knows lies at the heart of good youth work- human connection of the face-to-face kind. Research shows that despite all the technological advances and the increased ownership of mobile technology, teens preferred method of communication is face-to-face.
 
So while youth work will involve more technical wizardry in 2013 we should also allow time and space for unmediated humanconnection. Particularly for those youth who are struggling with lack of personal connection with family members and other professionals, direct human engagement rather than technologically-mediated interaction can be vital.
 
And if our focus is on relationship it will mean that no-one gets left behind due to lack of ownership of the latest device (23% of teens do not have a cell phone at all). We will be mindful of trying to connect with everyone, whatever their circumstance, in the way that they need.
 

Helping our teens to think and communicate well will be at the heart of helping them succeed.

 
With the continual rise of texting, social networking and social TV in teens’ lives in 2013 it will become ever easier to shoot off opinions and statements with relatively little thought or reflection – their fingers often operating faster than their minds – and this can work against good thinking, good decision-making and good communication.
 
So we need to ensure that even when using the latest tools in our work, that we don’t get slack in helping them think and communicate well. We need to show them that text messaging and social media can be great conversation starters and can be a great way to get us thinking, but if we are to really communicate we will need to take more time to formulate opinions, to express them well, to really listen to others respectfully and to reflect, and that most of the time this happens when we actually take the time to really talk to people. Our sessions should never get carried away on a technological wave that forgets the core skills we need to help them develop if they are to successfully navigate through life.
 
So while 2013 may be technologically more advanced and our ways of connecting and engaging may expand we shouldn’t forget that good youth work was the same in the past as it is today and will be tomorrow. We need to keep mobile and current with our methods but always ensuring we have a strong signal from the good youth work base-station. No signal, no useful service. It was true in 2012 and will still be true in 2013 and beyond.
 

Bio:

Sam Ross, popularly known as the ‘Teenage Whisperer’ is an expert in connecting with and helping the most challenging, disengaged and troubled teens to turn their lives around. She has worked in both educational and youth justice settings, both with young people and their parents or carers. Really understanding teens is the beginning, middle and end of her work and she helps professionals and parents achieve this through her website, providing advice, insight and resources: www.teenagewhisperer.co.uk You can also connect with her on Twitter: @Teen_Whisperer or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/teenagewhisperer
 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Develop your own professional development plan.

Between the staff at Ultimate Youth Worker we have over fifty different jobs throughout the breadth of youth service provision. The differences in theoretical frameworks, policy imperatives and staffing heirarchies are phenomenal. However one thing was the same in every organisation and career path… Professional Development was bleak and at best ad-lib. Aside from a handful of bosses who would give occasional “advice” noone had a clear plan for professional development. This also leant itself to a lack of career planning and support.
Whether you are in your first two years of your career and looking to the long future ahead or in your last two years and looking to retirement it is helpful to have a plan. Generally, we recommend to organisations that they develop a 3 year focus as to really develop a strong team that can weather the storm of a great leader moving on. We also ask each individual and their management to develop a 3 year plan to address the needs of the organisation, the career objectives of the individual and the potential paths that they could take. This is a very simplistic view of what we do but basically we tell people and organisations that if they don’t plan they will live in perpetual crisis.
So what can we as individuals do if our organisation isn’t planning and supporting our careers?

Develop your own plan!

Where do you see yourself in 3 years??? Team leader? Manager? Still at ground level? A new service path perhaps? Are you wanting to move from resi work to drug and alcohol? From local government to a small NGO??? Whatever the end goal you need to know what it takes!!! Check out position description for the role. Ask a person currently in that role what they do. Gather your data so you know what the end goal really looks like. When you have done all of this then you are ready to complete our four step process to develop a plan for your future.
Next you need to draw up a four by five table. The four areas you need to add to the table are qualifications, skills, behaviours and abilities.

Qualifications

Skills

Behaviours

Abilities

1

2

3

4

5

In each of these 4 columns you add the knowledge you have gained from your data gathering activity.
Lets say you want to move up from an outreach youth worker to a team leader. How would you do it??? Lets use the table and go from there.

 

You probably need some qualifications.

Here in Australia that is usually a diploma in youth work (a 2 year qualification) as a minimum. You may also need some management training. Also in Australia the Diploma in Frontline Management has become the standard. You may be asked for more specific qualifictaions…Just add them to the list.

Qualifications

Skills

Behaviours

Abilities

1

Diploma of Youth Work 

2

 Diploma Frontline Management

3

4

5

    

What skills might you need?

You will more than likely be asked to have a solid understanding of the basics of youth work and if you are going into a specialist area eg Drug and Alcohol, a good understanding of that. You are moving into managing people so you will need an understanding of conflict resolution. Maybe you will even need to supervise your staff.
Qualifications
Skills
Behaviours
Abilities
1
Diploma of Youth Work
Solid youth work theory and Practice
2
Diploma Frontline Management
Specialist understanding
3
Conflict resolution
4
Supervision
5
   

What do you mean by behaviours?

If you havn’t already go check out ou DISC posts. Basically what are the behaviours that a person is required to exhibit in this role. If you are required to network with key stakeholders then you probably need some diplomacy. Perhaps you need to set clear objectives for your team in difficult circumstances. You will need to motivate and lead your team.
Qualifications
Skills
behaviours
Abilities
1
Diploma of Youth Work
Solid youth work theory and Practice
Diplomacy
2
Diploma Frontline Management
Specialist understanding
Leadership
3
Conflict resolution
Motivation
4
Supervision
5

Do I have the abilities I need?

Probably, otherwise you wouldn’t have thought you could do the job. Abilities are the practicalities of the job. Can you read a budget? Can you perform an assessment of a young person? Could you do an annual review. Can you run a team meeting? these may sound simple but many people who look to move up have never done them before.
Qualifications
Skills
behaviours
Abilities
1
Diploma of Youth Work
Solid youth work theory and Practice
Diplomacy
Read and develop a budget
2
Diploma Frontline Management
Specialist understanding
Leadership
Perform risk assessment of young person
3
Conflict resolution
Motivation
Perform staff appraisals
4
Supervision
Run a team meeting
5


If you can fill in all 4 columns then you will have twenty areas from which to benchmark yourself. You may already be ok in a number of these areas or you may have none. Once you have your list of twenty work out which ones you need and go and get them.

There you have it… a professional development plan you can do in an evening of brainstorming.

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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What will youth work look like in 2013?

Today I am stoked to continue our series with a guest post from one of the worlds most well known youth work professors. In this series we have heard from Shae and Stephen Pepper from youthworkinit.com and will continue to hear from some of the leading minds in youth work from throughout the world culminating in early 2013.

Today’s Guest Post is written by one of New York’s finest, Professor Dana Fusco. In over 20 years as a lecturer in youth work she has shaped the argument for youth services in the United States encompassing areas such as reflective practice, after school services and youth work in interdisciplinary teams. Dana has a BA in Psychology from SUNY at New Paltz and a Phd in Educational Psychology from CUNY Graduate Center. She also runs the facebook group Advancing Youth Work: Current Trends, Critical Questions.

So Dana, what will youth work look like in 2013???

Dana Fusco, Professor, City University of New York, York College, United States

In the United States, youth work is not a unified or singular practice; rather, it has been described, and still is, a family of practices (Baizerman, 1996[1]). That family provides, in the most ideal circumstance, a plethora of diverse opportunities for young people. What we, as youthwork practitioners hope is that the set of diverse experiences known as ‘youth work’ will help young people to live rich, healthy, and fulfilling lives now and into the future. Our praxis is grounded or contextualized in the actual, not theoretical, lives of young people; is responsive to their lived experiences, their hopes, their aspirations and dreams; and proclaims a participatory and democratic approach that supports youth voice and agency as a part of community engagement.

In the places where youth work looks like this in 2012, I suspect it will continue to do so in 2013. That said, there are some trends on the horizon that potentially put the family of youth work practices in jeopardy. If we think of youth work as a stew, then each practice is an important ingredient towards a ‘tasty’ and healthful creation. In the U.S., our stew seems a bit ‘soupy’ these days, with ‘critical’ and emancipatory forms of youth work being those most often removed or replaced. This trend was precipitated by several sociopolitical and economic factors, with the most direct consequence being the pressure for out-of-school, nonformal environments to link up to, connect with, and supplement school. The goal for those who hope to formalize out-of-school environment is that there is a collective impact towards meeting NCLB (No Child Left Behind) targets (standardized test scores in reading and math).

The trend of youth work moving towards formalized education began with the development of a billion dollar federal reserve for afterschool programs under the Clinton administration, known as 21st Century Community Learning grants. These grants had two contradictory consequences. On the one hand, they put into the public eye, the importance of afterschool environments, many of which at that time were the youth-club-in-community-center variety, and legitimized these spaces as critical for young people. On the flip side, those dollars came with “strings” to improve academic outcomes. Some community agencies with a strong history of local work with young people have maneuvered within the structure to work in participatory and emergent ways. Many have closed their doors. Those newer to the scene might be doing good educational and ‘youth development’ stuff after school, i.e., enrichment and project-based learning, but not youth work in the way we have known it.

This situation leaves us with two potential possibilities for the future of the field. First, we can name these afterschool practices as part of the family of youth work practice and accept them as such. Second, we can decide that this form of afterschool, which is geared towards ‘a priori’ academic outcomes, might be too predetermined and ritualistic to be considered youth work at all. If this is the case, we must not only define youth work by what it is not but by what it is – an emergent and relational form of workingwith young people that is community-based, participatory and responsive, or what I am now calling, critical youth work (CYW).

If we choose the second option it will be critical that we more clearly define the purpose and values of CYW. As I see it, CYW aims to co-create spaces with young people where they can lead and learn. In this formulation, youth work begins with young people’s concerns, interests, goals, and/or needs, and positions practitioners to construct a ‘use of self’ that creates a relational web of possibility. Then, in this conception of the future, it is the education of the youth worker that becomes increasingly pivotal.

In 2013, it is not only changes in youth work practice that we must attend to but also changes in youthworkeducation (YoEd) In the U.S. we have seen an explosion in YoEd within higher education, a 900% increase over the past four years with most of these framed as ‘youth development.’ Conversely, in the U.K. and Australia, longstanding youth work courses and degree programs have closed their doors including those found at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and Manchester University. While the reasons for such closures have been couched in economic and enrollment terms, one wonders why Youth Work/Youth Studies then and not Latin or philosophy, which equally might enroll under five students each year. The lack of understanding among higher education administration about community-based youth work is partly to blame. The title itself, youth work, leans towards the vocational, not the liberal arts. In 2013, it is hard to predict where those who want to study youth work and youth studies in these countries will go. If they go into existing, related disciplines, e.g., social work, then youth work will too likely become case management; if they go into education, then youth work will become para-teaching. With such potential outcomes, an international community of youth workers and youth work educators is needed whether in the form of an association or something else in order to work towards saving/reclaiming and re-thinking the discipline of youth work. I believe today it is in our international community that we have collective power and bargaining to legitimize the work and the body of knowledge that we have co-created as a viable area of study and practice for working with young people.

In 2013, this would be something to aim for!

[1] Baizerman M. (1996). Youth work on the street. Community’s moral compact with its young people. Childhood, 3, 157-165.

Professor Dana Fusco

For more than 20 years, Dana Fusco’s research has focused on youth work as a practice and a profession and has led to increased national and international recognition. Recently she was the keynote speaker at the History of Youth Work conference in Minnesota and presented at the International Conference on Youth Work and Youth Studies in Glasgow. She serves on a national panel of leaders in youth work, the Next Generation Coalition, has authored dozens of peer-reviewed articles and produced the documentary, “When School Is Not Enough.” Professor in Teacher Education at York College, CUNY, She received her Ph.D. in Education Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Dana is The Editor of the path-breaking book Advancing Youth Work: Current Trends, Critical Questions, which brings together an international list of contributors to collectively articulate a vision for the field of youth work. This book is a must have and is one we would recommend you all get. We did. You can buy it here.

 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Read a book.

Ongoing Professional Development is one of the foundation pillars which underpin the Ultimate Youth Worker. However, it can be hard to gain enough GOOD development opportunities for us to grow in our abilities and careers. This can be difficult when our orginisations have such small professional development budgets, there is a shortage of worthwhile training and its hard to find the time to get away from the office. So how can we deal with these issues and still gain great develolpment???  Read a book!

So with the myriad of books out there how do you get a good one???

  1. Look for three great ideas
    • When you come across a book in a shop dont just grab it because the title was good. Don’t grab it because you like the look of a couple of chapter headings flick through a few of the pages and find three great ideas. What you consider a great idea may not be the same as the next person but three makes sure you are getting a top read. For me its looking for three ideas I can impliment immediately in my own practice.
  2. Check out the most recommended books on amazon.com
    • There are millions of books on amazon and at the time of this post there were 25,693 books which came up when I typed in youth work to there search engine. But don’t stop there. Read widely! Look at counselling skills, mental health, group work or any number of other areas of practice.
  3. Check out a reputable review of books

There was a story a few years back that may have been apocryphal but why ruin a good story. Apparently George W. Bush Jr read 95 books in one year whilst President of the United States of America. Some believe this to be a bit of a fishing story however if it is even half true then one of the busiest men in the world was still able to out read most people hands down.
How is your reading collection going? I currently have six books on the go as well as a number of journals (probably about my limit whilst retaining info). My Bedside table looks like a bomb went off. My professional development is my responsibility and reading a book is the easiest and most readily available mode. It is hard to find time, money or a good book. But as our friends at Manager Tools say, reading is one of the most important things a person needs to do each week.

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and you will be kept up to date on all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. Just add your details to the form at the top right of this page it’s all you need to do.

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And by all means leave us a comment below or post a comment on facebook and twitter. It is a supportive community that makes us Ultimate Youth Workers.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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How to encourage young people as a youth worker

One of the most enjoyable parts of being a youth worker is providing a measure of encouragement to our young people. Often the world sucks! Through broken people, the media and even their “friends” young people are attacked from all sides by people telling them how bad they are, that they are delinquent and even worse they are useless. Young people are behind the eight ball when it comes to developing their self-confidence and then society throws them under the bus to finish them off. No wonder our young people struggle to dream of a better future.
 
The difficulty with encouragement is that it is sometimes really hard to do!  Some of our young people are a joy to be around and others take a lot of effort. Some of our young people are easy to encourage and for others it is like pulling teeth. When a top performing young person does their normal activity it is relatively easy to find something to encourage them about. When a difficult young person goes about their normal activity we want to take to them with a baseball bat… (or perhaps that’s just me). So how can we encourage our young people even when we want to murder them???
 
We need a framework! A tool for the job! And it just so happens that I have one for you that I picked up in 2004. I Was doing an internship with a great youth organisation here in Melbourne when we were taught this amazing little gem. I do not remember who they borrowed the concept from but it is awesome to use as a foundation for encouraging young people. It can take less than 10 seconds, is three sentences and works every time… WE GUARANTEE IT!!!
 

 

So what are the three sentences?

I saw what you did…
That makes me feel…
I see you becoming… 

 

Lets spend some time and break this down for you.

  1. I saw what you did… You need to observe a behaviour in your young people (However small it might be) and put it into words. It could be an interaction with another person, An action they don’t often do like cleaning up without asking or even not acting negatively when provoked. As long as you observed it and can articulate what you saw then you have completed the first step.
  2. That makes me feel… I must confess this is the step I struggled with most, and still do sometimes (I am an emotionally stunted individual, at least that’s what my wife tells me when I have angered her). Once you have observed and articulated the behaviour you need to let them know how their behaviour has impacted upon you. Once again it doesn’t need to be monumental. I once told a young person that I was relieved that they hadn’t gotten into a fight with a half dozen other young people (I was in the middle of the group and saw my life flash before my eyes whilst a bright light emerged in front of me… I think I heard voices). Pick a feeling and let them know why you feel that way.
  3. I see you becoming…The final step is to let them know that you are seeing a transformation. If their behaviour was a meaningless blip on the radar it will have little impact on them when you point it out. If however, the behaviour is a step in the direction of awesomeness that has a lasting effect. It shows that you see their behaviour as a step in a process rather than a one off brain fart in their otherwise perfect record of naughtiness. It also leaves a thought in the back of their mind about where YOU see THEM heading in life.
This framework is great to use with difficult young people because it guides you and you don’t need to struggle with what to say. But it works equally well with a good kid, a little old lady (Just don’t tell them you see them becoming worm food…apparently they don’t like to be reminded they are close to death. Who knew!) and even with your spouse. It doesn’t matter who you use it with, just that you use it. We all know that young people need more encouragement and often it just seems too hard. This tool provides the leverage you need to move towards a more encouraging youth practice. 
 
Encouraging Young People
 

 Examples

  • A young person in Out of Home Care who usually turns every discussion into an argument or a physical altercation decides to walk away from another young person when their chat begins to turn ugly. You walk up to her and say… I saw you walk away from Sarah just then. When you take action to stop a fight like that I feel confidant that you are maturing. I see you becoming better at managing your emotions.
  • When I was a street drug and alcohol outreach specialist, I came across a young guy who was obviously hanging out for a hit. I had known him for a few months and was aware that he had little self control when it came to his drug use. As we spoke he stated that he had told his dealer that he was not going to use on the particular night because a friend of his had overdosed a year earlier. I said, “I can see that your choice not to use has caused you a heap of hurt and that doesn’t look like its going to let up. That makes me feel like your mate meant a lot to you and that when things mean a lot to you you will go the extra mile. I see you becoming a man who will put himself on the line for what he believes in”. He continued to use for just under a year but the work we did for that time was firmly cemented in his ability to choose the hard path and commit to it even if it hurt.
A challenge to end this post. Encourage at least one person every day!!! If you struggle with what to say use our framework. The point of the exercise is to just do it. Society is so stuffed up that any encouragement no matter how staged or poorly enunciated is gold. People will lap it up like they had never been encouraged before. If you got to here I know you want to encourage your young people. It warms my hear to know that you want to make your young people feel loved and supported. I see you becoming an ULTIMATE YOUTH WORKER!
 

 

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Deep engagement in youth work

All too often in youth work we are forced to commit ourselves to shallow engagements with young people. Whether because of funding, policy or staffing constraints we are required to put aside relationship building to satisfy paperwork for bureaucrats. More and more young people are crying out for real support from youth workers, and more and more the squeeze of the bureaucrat tears our loyalty and professionalism in two. How can young people trust us when we can’t offer them the basis of trust…time?
 
In my mid twenties I was seconded to a small rural drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre as their Assistant Manager. I was excited. However that excitement barely lasted my first week. I was tasked with transforming the service into a dual diagnosis rehabilitation facility by our government benefactors within very stringent time lines and policy environments. One of my constraints was that a maximum stay with our service was eight weeks with many young people leaving before the sixth week. The government saw this as young people having an inability to stick at rehabilitation. I saw young people who did not trust the staff and could not develop lasting relationships in six weeks being oppressed by a system set up to help them.
 
 
I advocated for a change to our constrained time frames and was blocked. We showed client feedback and were countered by vagueties and innuendo. We even provided cost benefit analysis to the minister showing the need. Nothing. The idea of engaging with young people beyond a surface level was one which we just could not get the bureaucracy to understand. This led me to become as Schwartz and Sharpe (2011) a canny outlaw, Trading conventional wisdom for practical wisdom. I found every opportunity to keep a young person on for a second stay. I developed links to supported accommodation and provided staff to outreach to the young people. My rationale was that if we were to really effect change in our young peoples lives then we had to gain their trust and that required a deeper engagement than six weeks could provide. It was during this time that I began to develop my understanding of the need for deep engagement as a pillar of successful youth work practice.
 
Young people are seeking genuine care from youth workers. Care built on developed trust. To build this trust we must share life with our young people and this can only happen by spending time with them. I have worked in many corners of the youth sector, government departments, residential care, family services, homelessness and ministry; the same issue exists in every one of them. Policy constraints, lack of funding and a lack of trust from our young people. If we wish to turn the tide of societal disintegration we have to step into the gap. Our identity as youth workers places us in that gap. We believe that young people should have every opportunity to develop and the best way for that is to engage as deeply with them as possible. Sharing in their struggles, triumphs and developing a trust that can only come from a shared path.
 
 
 
We are accountable to many stakeholders as youth workers. In this role we must hold our accountability to our young people as our highest duty. To provide the best practice possible to our young people we must engage deeply and build trust. But how do we do it I hear you say? It is no easy feat. We will have to move counter culturally to the norm of current youth work practice. We must spend more time with our young people in meaningful activities rather than one hour appointments.
 
Deep engagement is difficult in our current service system however, it is the only way to build the foundation to work with young people to change their trajectory. Deep engagement is the benchmark for youth services provided by the team at Ultimate Youth Worker. It is also the central concept in all of our teaching, supervision and coaching around client engagement. We believe this so intensely that we routinely pass up work that is not geared towards enhancing engagement with young people. This is our number one imperative when working with young people. If you are not willing or able to engage deeply with young people do not engage at all! 
 
In coming months we will discuss how to engage deeply with young people, however it may require you to shirk the ‘rules’ imposed on you. Are you willing to become a ‘canny outlaw’ to support young people more effectively?
 

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Observe the C in DISC for youth worker’s

Over the last five weeks we have looked into the best tool we know of to help people build relationships with people the DISC behavioural profile. So far we have looked at three of the quadrents DOMINANCE, INFLUENCE and STEADINESS. This week in our ‘Thursday Think Tank’ we continue with the final quadrant in the profile and an overview of the CONSCIENTIOUSNESS behavioural style. People with this style are usually reserved and task focused.
 
 
Mr and Mrs facts and figures. People with high CONSCIENTIOUSNESS in the group are the epitome of dot your I’s and cross your T’s. They are slow to speak but when they do it is meticulous and ordered. They focus on task and process. They respect people who are precise and accurate. They often have a sterile work space. They are time conscious but not restrained by it. They are hard to read when it comes to body language and above all else want to be right! If these guys were a slogan they would be HTC: quietly briliant.
 
A person with a high level of CONSCIENTIOUSNESS in their profile is a rule follower. If there isn’t a rule they want one created. These people are usually polite and diplomatic. They will often communicate in writing over face-to-face. They do not focus on big picture but get down in the weeds, the detail. No abstracts or opinions here, They only discuss the facts. A high C can often get stuck in the old ways of doing things and systems of old and would rarely act without a precedent.

A high level of CONSCIENTIOUSNESS can lead to giving in to avoid conflict. They can be slow to act and do not see the forrest for the trees. They see the problems and can be critical of others. To make a decision these guys need every piece of information and every avenue of thought to be addressed… even then if there is any risk they may not act. They are thorough and persistent. They are matter-of-fact which can come accross as abrasive.

 

Here are our top seven tips for working with people with CONSCIENTIOUSNESS behavioural traits:

  1. Give clear expectations and deadlines: If you want a decision tell them that. Be clear about the time frame too. Don’t extend your timeline be clear that a decision needs to be made and when you want it done by.
  2. Show dependability: Let them know that you depend on their work and that they can depend on you to support them.
  3. Show loyalty: Back them whereevr you can. These guys don’t like conflict so will not argue with you if you go against them, they will just withdraw. If you can, Show them you are on their side.
  4. Be tactful and reserved: Even if you are going to go with another idea be supportive of them. They are not party animals so tone it down and focus on their knowledge and expertise.
  5. Honour precedents: If something has worked in the past and they bring it to your attention try to run with their idea. If there is a rule in place, even if it is unwritten, be aware and open to following it.
  6. Be precise and focused: this is similar to number one, however is more about how to do it. Do not leave any ambiguity. Be clear consice and if necesary say it twice. Set SMART goals and require them to report on their actions. Send your request in an email… they’ll love it.
  7. Value high standards: These guys expect perfection and then attempt to deliver it. When they want to have it perfect but you have a short timeframe express your thanks for their standards but explain the need for brevity. Hold it in high regard. Praise them for their effort. Let them know you still expect the highest possible quality within the timeframe.

 

 Some well known high CONSCIENTIOUSNESS behaviour holders you may know and have seen.

 
 
Colin Powell



 

 

Mr. Spock



 

 
Bill Gates



 

 
Kevin Rudd



 

 

Fred Hollows



 

 
James May

If you haven’t yet sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. The form at the top right of this page is all you need to do.

 

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Accountability through ongoing learning

Throughout my career I have met hundreds if not thousands of youth workers with varying levels of expertise, varying knowledge bases and within differing organisations. Whether they are eighteen or eighty (yes I have met an eighty year old youth worker) they all brought their understanding and experiences to their practice. The ones who I respected the most were the ones who had the guts to say they didn’t know something and asked how to do it. Whether it was looking at a new theory and not knowing how to translate it to theory or developing a program and not knowing the best evaluation methods recognising your limitations and seeking to gain education to fix this is the mark of a true Ultimate Youth Worker.
 
 
Recently I have met a handful of youth worker’s who have spent more than a decade in the field. These youth workers are in positions of leadership throughout the sector. They also have a limited understanding of youth work basics. They do not hold qualifications and believe that their knowledge level is ok. These workers are not held accountable for their practice by anyone. Because of their lack of accountability these youth workers have not been required to develop their skillset, their practice or their ethics.
 
One such worker stated to me that after thirty years in the field she did not know how to evaluate a program properly. She followed that comment up by saying that it was ok because she would leave program evaluation to her staff. I don’t believe that you need to know everything as a supervisor but you should have a basic level of understanding. This worker did not see her deficit as needing to be addressed. If she had stated that she wanted to know how to evaluate a program or that she was looking into some articles about evaluation this post may not have been written. We need to aim for excellence in youth work. We owe it to our clients, coleagues and community. Anything else is slack.
 
 
The fact is it is easy to fix. I do not know everything. I am the first to admit it. The rest of the team hear at Ultimate Youth Worker do not hold the ticket of all knowledge. Together we are not bad but we still don’t know it all. But we do ask questions, we read widely and attend every piece of training that we possibly can. The first step is to identify where there is a deficit in your practice. The second step is to seek a way to fix this deficit and to be a sponge of any knowledge you can find to aid you in this mission.  
A way to get your professional learnings right on your phone, tablet or computer
Until recently I had never written a social media marketing plan. I spoke to friends and colleaguews in the communications field. I read articles and blogposts and anything else I could get my hands on. I spent endless nights slaving over the keyboard and eventually I wrote my first social media marketing plan. I have also been working with a young youth worker who is developing his first project proposal. When we first spoke about what it would entail before he could open the doors to his first project he almost fell off his chair. The task seemed so big. It was unknown. A few chats and a couple of articles later and the task didn’t seem to scary. Knowledge is a powerful tool.
 
The other side to this coin is to have someone who will keep you accountable to ongoing learning. If you are blessed (or cursed as I may be) you may have multiple people who get you to think about multiple areas of your practice. The point is you never become an expert… you just become a life long learner. The education of an Ultimate Youth Worker is a life long commitment and a duty to be fulfilled. But more on that next week.

 

If you haven’t yet sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. The form at the top right of this page is all you need to do.

 

You can sign up to have our blog posts sent straight to your email by adding your email to the subscribe button on your right.

 

You can also leave us a comment below or post a comment on facebook and twitter.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Observe the S in DISC for youth worker’s

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the DISC behavioural profile and its use for youth worker’s in developing relationships and networks. So far we have discussed the EXTRAVERTS of the group and we continue on with the PEOPLE focused groups today. This week in our Thursday Think Tank we continue with the third quadrant in the profile and an overview of the STEADINESS behavioural style.
 
STEADINESS is the nurturer of the bunch. The motherly figure. The thrive on small talk. They are the first people to ask you how you are going. They prefer to ask rather than tell. They love to listen rather than talking. They are the slow steady deliverers. Those that have a STEADINESS profile are often reserved and speak with a lower volume. These people will use first names and speak with a warmth that is genuine. STEADINESS behaviours tend to prefer speaking one-on-one rather than to a group. They speak calmly and methodically and are often seen as the steady ship when all around is chaos because they proceed carefully. These people often have photo’s all over their desk, are embarassed when praised but are the first to celebrate others and seem to be everyones friend. On the negative side they are often resistant to change, have difficulty prioritising tasks and sticking to deadlines. They struggle with systems and struggle with presentations and believing that their part in the grand scheme really is worthwhile. If these guys were a slogan they would be Optus: We hear you.
 
.
 
A person with a high level of STEADINESS in their profile speak rarely. They want to check on how a decision will affect others and are slow to impliment tasks particularlly if there is not a precedent. These folk are all about the story…all 18 volumes of it. They want to be part of the team and let everyone have a say. The saying you have two ears and one mouth so listen more than you speak was written by a high S. When they do speak though it is at a hundred miles an hour…they have a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it.
 
It is hard to get a rise out of a high S. They epitomise the ostrich sticking their head in the sand. They shy away from any conflict as it goes against everything they stand for…Status quo and friends for all. They will rarely fight back, but if they do it is usually over the notions of justice and fairness. When they do fight back it is usually a quick explosion of how unfair an idea is and that as a person you are unfair because of your decision. It is also over as quick as they can make it happen as they want to get back to the way things were. Remember they are people persons.
 
 
 

Here are our top five tips for working with people with STEADINESS behavioural traits:

  1. Be logical and systematic: These guys struggle with priorities and systems but they need to have a plan of action, otherwise they would spend all day around the watercooler or at a cafe chatting about your life. set clear boundaries and timelines for task completion.
  2. Provide a secure environment: They do not like change! Make their environment as predictable as you can. Do not ask them to change thier password, move desks, do a rush presentation or lead a project that needs a quick resolution. Make them feel safe.
  3. Tell them about change early: If there needs to be a change, pre-wire them early. Give them a heads up. Provide time for them to become comfortable with the idea of change. Walk them through it step by step and address their concerns.
  4. Show how they’re important: If they do something great. Minimise your appreciation in public and be as sincere as possible in private. They struggle to feel their work is important so explain how they have made a difference.
  5. Teach them shortcuts: If you let them run the show it will take two days to make a cup of coffee! The conversations will take up all their time. They want consensus and a clear picture of everything that needs to be done. The key thought here is do not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Some well known high STEADINESS behaviour holders you may know and have seen.

 
Michelle Obama
 
Ghandi
 
Pope John Paul
 
Grant Hackett (Australian Swimmer)
 
Mother Teresa

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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