Almost four Thursdays ago I was a guest lecturer at NYU Silver School of Social Work. Purely by circumstance no less. A friend/colleague of mine was unable to make it work so he recommended me to the professor and things went from there.
This was (to date) the coldest day of the season. To add insult to injury, I was getting over a bad cold. Speaking a great deal aggravated my sensitive throat so I armed myself with a Venti hot tea and come Riccola cough drops to support me through.
As I walked down Washington Square North, I remember vividly thinking how many times I walked down that same street in the 90’s and early 00’s to go to clubs/lounges, have dinner or just figure out what was coming next at night with friends. I also thought that the fact I am now old enough so refer to times in my life by decade is not exactly exciting but it means that it brought me to this point. Has a little over 5 years as a licensed social worker has given me enough experience to facilitate conversations with a set of upcoming social worker who are eager to carve into this challenging helping profession? Yes. It has 🙂
I am fully aware how silly this will sound but I am going to say it anyway. As I walked into the building to sign in with security, it smelled like grad school. It smelled of coffee and sweet treats, fried fast food and exhaustion from finals. It smelled of the negative $h!ts that people had to give at this point in December with the 5% of sanity left that tells you if you fail that it will cost money to take the course over. Honestly, one of the best experiences about the entire thing that I remembered. Part of what I pride myself on is my ability to remember how I felt in certain situations. I feel that it is important, not just in my professional practice but in my personal life. To remember how much our emotions drive our actions sometimes is important as human beings. We at times forget the “being” part.
Sitting in a room in a circle (it was a groups class) was weird because I was in the front of it. Never in my life have I sat in the front of the room unless I was forced. The strange feeling disappeared once I started speaking. There are so many things in my life that I at times question my ability to do with proficiency or with precision but this is not one of them. I am glad everyday for this.
The women in the room had already cultivated so much experience within their placements it was impressive. It give me so much hope, not just for the profession but for the diverse population of women who were able to so seamlessly reflect on their facilitation experiences from a strengths based perspective. Its a very nice thing to know that schools of social work are really doing a quality job of educating thoughtful socially conscious practitioners. I felt it in the room and it made me smile.
Time went very quickly. I went over things in my mind and till this day I was even impressive with myself. Honestly I couldn’t help but think, “I really sound like I know what I am talking about!” I do. I take that statement seriously. I own the fact (I shared this with the class) that your experiences in the field and in facilitation will undoubtedly strengthen your practice but that there will be a few key elements from school that you will carry with you and really work to craft. The practitioners who thrive, who create, who continue to learn, who think on their feet are the ones who live their practice. It’s something that school can’t teach but I feel that they do good job of instilling the themes necessary for success.
Moving forward, this was a good spring board for me. I will be taking on a new challenge later this month as an adjunct professor in an online MSW program. Having a hand in shaping the practice and experience of the next set of future social workers is exciting. I think a part of me is more excited about what I will learn from them. Its a strange thing when you rewind a piece of your life in a different way and find a way to pay forward some of it.