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As part
of my social work studies, I was required to carry out six child observations,
do a power point presentation, and write a reflective report on the entire
exercise. To make this reflective report coherent and concise, I will be
adopting the six stages of Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle.



used the Tavistock method (Esther Bick, 1964) to carry out these observations. I
did one informal presentation and one formal power point presentation after the
sixth observation.

task started with getting an unfamiliar child of a different age group as my
children and from a different race and background as myself (Gillan Ruch, 2009).
I contacted parents and pre-schools for assistance. I observed a 4year 8months girl
in a school setting. Before I started, I secured consent of both parents and
the school through a written agreement reviewed and signed by the school, the
child’s parents and myself. I also signed a copy of the school’s policy on
volunteers/ external involvement. (PCF.1)



decision to use an unfamiliar child put me in an uncomfortable position. I felt
uncomfortable to approach unfamiliar people, telling them I need their child for
my personal interest. But I encouraged myself and started contacting parents
with young ones.


negotiations about the observation were with the head teacher and not the class
teacher. This made me have a feeling of powerlessness for the teacher (Neil
Thompson, 2012). Also while observing, the pupils occasionally came for
help/chat but I couldn’t and this made me feel like an intruder in the
teacher’s territory (M and S O’Loughlin, 2014).


presenting, I felt very nervous at the beginning and was also anxious that the
time will not be enough. This made me rush the presentation. However, the
constructive feedbacks I received made me feel I have started to learn how to
apply theory to practice and is now beginning to be reflective in my practice
(Knott and Scragg, 2016).


I felt my role as an observer was not necessary, but I got an understanding of
why I should do observation. According to Carole Sharman et al (2006, p: 1)


can learn more about why and when children and young people do something by having
knowledge of development, and by observing what they do. Without that knowledge
we can misunderstand what they are trying to tell us, and this can make life
difficult for everyone” (paraphrased).



decision to observe an unfamiliar child from was very good. It enlightened my
knowledge about nature and nurture and limited the impact of my personal values
and prejudices on the observation (Gillan Ruch, 2009), though it was hard for
me trying to invade unfamiliar people’s territory to get a child.


was careful negotiation among all parties to the observation (Riche and Tanner,
1998). The agreement was reviewed by all parties before printing and signing
the final copy. I also recognised the class teacher as party to the observation
and I briefly introduced myself to her on the first day of my observation. I
believe this enabled a good professional relationship which is key in social
work practice (Wilson et al 2008). It also showed respect to human rights (BASW
2012). However, these brought in a bit of delay in the preliminary process.


Tavistock method used for the observation enabled concentration. But I think
one hour is not enough and that using the same time and setting limited the
understanding of behaviour. According to Bandura (1969), Holland (2004), and
Howarth (2010) cited in M and S O’Loughlin (2014), behaviour is better
understood in different settings. Nevertheless, the school setting created
opportunity for me to see how children interact with their external world
outside their home, even though there were distractions from other children (G
Ruch, 2009).


power point presentation went well but not without faults. My slides were attractive,
but some contained too much information and looked compressed. I spent longer
time, used faster speed and lesser eye contact as expected. I believe this was
caused by my inexperience, anxiety, and time constraint considering the
information I had.  However, the
questions and feedbacks enhanced my ability to think critically and
constructively and showed areas I need to improve on.   (PCF
6, 7, 9).



to Trevithick (2012 p.169) “we learn a
lot by observing others and as such learn what is being transmitted through
tone of voice, volume, intonation, posture and gestures.”


the observation, I saw how secured attachment could help a child develop
resilience and reduce feelings of powerlessness and purposelessness (Bowlby 1969).
I deduced that though Bowlby recognised secured attachment for under 5s, he failed
to recognise this attachment outside the mother. I could see the child securely
attached with friends within the school. Thus, the stimulating meso system
offered her opportunity to explore and develop positively (Bronfenbrenner 1979).
However, despite these external factors, there are biological factors that
affect temperament and in turn may determine how a child acts or reacts in the
environment and what the child gets in return (J Walker, 2017). At this point
as a mother I reflected on my children’s relationship in school, its effect on
their social and academic development and the impact of moving them from their
school. As a professional, I thought about the emotional impact of moving
children from schools especially during adoption.


The observation
also revealed Erikson’s (1950) stages of psychosocial development. I saw hope,
will power, purpose, and care as the child played; though there was no
dedication to the care. I learnt children can show an element of care earlier
than Erikson suggested. I learnt good skills like compassion, love and
leadership can be developed through play (Schaffer, 1994). However, the child’s
intermittent movement from one play to the other made me believe that children
may lack ability to maintain these skills.


I saw
the link between play and social and cognitive development as I observed (T Keenan
2002). I saw her cognitive ability emerge through play as she actively explored
her environment seeking alternative ways in making her own party crown (Piaget,
1962).  This exploration I believe, was
triggered by a stimulating environment offered by the teacher and school (Bandura,
1969). This implies that both the process of adaptation and the environment
play significant role in shaping the child.


presentations were an opportunity to express and improve on my communication
skills which is important in social work practice (HCPC 2016, PCF 7). One
feedback I received created self-awareness in me about my prejudices. This
confirms that where you stand determines what you see (M and S O’Loughlin, 2014).
It made me gain understanding on what to look for beyond race and gender; emphasising
the need for a reflective practice which is anti-discriminatory and
anti-oppressive (Niel Thompson, 2012).


I learnt much through the observation, I believe the teacher’s interaction with
the child might have been influenced by my presence thereby bringing an
observer effect on behaviour. M and S O’Loughlin (2014). Fawcett (2009 p. 16)
states that

learn much from our observations, but we must accept that what we see is the
tip of the iceberg.”



have learnt that anxiety could be a case for ineffective or negligent professional
conduct. It could put practitioners in risky circumstances such as I
experienced during the presentation (G Ruch, 2009). It is also important to maintain
openness, be aware of ones’ own prejudices, and constantly work on the
interlocking differences of race, class, gender and other factors that might
affect professional decisions.


observation created more awareness in me that inequalities exist everywhere in
the society and that both personal and professional relationships are affected
by power dynamics. It also enlightened my understanding on how to maintain
professional boundary while working in a different organisational context (PCF
1, 8).


observation enhanced my ability to concentrate, use theoretical materials,
relax, and think before doing. I also learnt that opportunities for feedbacks
and seminars are very good ‘open spaces’ for stripping bare embedded
assumptions and values that could negatively affect professional decisions.
(Riche and Tanner (1998), PCF.9) I have learnt the need for good communication
skills in social work practice to present information accurately (PCF 7).


I now understand a child’s world from a wider perspective; having a holistic view
of child development and how powerless a child can be. I have learnt the need
for person centred support acknowledging the uniqueness of everyone (HCPC,
2016) as well as recognising the impact of the eco system on individuals across
the life course.


Action Plan

will continue to improve on my emotional intelligence by reading more
literatures on reflective practice and consciously reflecting on feedbacks.
During placement, I will make use of supervision to improve my observation
skills. I will work on my IT and communication skills to improve my ability in
power point presentations.

constructive feedback is an important skill in social work.  I will ensure I seize every opportunity that
comes my way to improve my ability to give constructive feedbacks as well as improve
my confidence in speaking to an audience.

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