I joined Running Deer in September as a fresh faced new caseworker, I didn’t know quite what to expect but it didn’t take me long to know this environment was one I loved and wanted to be in.
Whilst my background has typically always been working with young people in one capacity or another, they were either for short time frames (such as a summer job) or in sporting settings, which can be very different to the educational environment provided by schools.
Learning isn’t just for students
As the new term begins and the students and staff settle back in and begin the next part of our journey, I thought I would reflect on what I learnt during the first term at Running Deer!
When I started at Running Deer my fire making skills weren’t quite where they are now (they were non-existent). Though luckily both case workers and students stepped up to teach me – JH and OF in particular, alongside CJ and Brandon lighting the morning fire.
My log splitting has been developed under the close eye of Anna and Chris, who both showed me the safest and most efficient way to split the wood – I’ve been lucky to have a good amount of practise since then and definitely feel the therapeutic benefits of splitting!
Running Deer has a range of students with a range of personalities, hobbies and interests. Getting to know these different students has developed my communication skills to adapt different styles when needed, whether calming a frustrated student down or adopting a gentle style of quiet engagement. Also being able to match the energy levels of more excited students to create a positive vibe but being able to use language that ensures boundaries are maintained and rules adhered too.
Running Deer relies on its staff working as one team with shared goals, and provide the best possible experience for the students we have with us. Whilst I’ve been involved in teams for a majority of my life, they’ve typically been sporting or small closer knit teams. Running Deer has a team consisting of Case workers, teachers and senior management staff in a variety of roles – understanding each other strengths and weaknesses and being able to work with them is an integral part of Running Deer.
Education will usually conjure images of classrooms with students being taught by a teacher, whilst Running Deer definitely has this element, there are many other styles and methods. The ASDAN qualifications that our students undertake are varied and can feature different elements, these include visits to local areas and attractions, working with animals and topics of special interest such as religion and mental health. Completing the “No Outsiders” based learning allows students to learn about prejudice and racism, and how they can help to stop it. Lego club provides students opportunities to develop their social and communication skills. Activities such as football and climbing allow students to develop passions and learn new skills at the same time. As you can tell, Running Deer has a lot going on!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts.