Student notebooks

  A M A N D A   T A Y L O R

06 Amanda Taylor   06 Notebooks

I qualified as a social worker from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland in 2004. Prior to this I had been employed, for a number of years, in various roles within Irelands integrated health and social care sector. My work, both qualified and unqualified, was mainly in adult mental health services in one form or another. Although prior to moving to England I also had the privilege of  practicing as a specialist social worker for children with varying degrees of Deafness. Rather quickly after qualification, and mainly as a result of post qualifying requirements, it was social work education that caught my attention and to a larger extent my heart.

I have chosen my student notebooks from across all three years of my initial training as my objects because…

Of how they not only capture my learning journey but also because of how they serve as a reminder of how incredibly privileged I was to have been permitted access to the lives of the people I worked ‘with’ whilst a student on practice placement. They are not only symbolic of my early career development but also representative of all of those who moulded and shaped me into the practitioner I aspired to be.

As I leaf through what could be viewed as almost unremarkable objects I am reminded of how very exciting if not incredibly challenging being a social worker student was and indeed is. I am left wondering how many students entering the profession use or might even benefit from a little notebook or two as they embark upon their own unique learning journeys, a kind of rite of passage. My own journey continues, even as students now look to me for the support, advice and guidance that I once sought from the educators around me.


Maybe I should pick up where I left off and make a few more notes about the privilege of social work.  Because no matter what your role is within the wider professional system it is your influence that ultimately lands on the doorsteps of those we set out to serve …



3 thoughts on “Student notebooks”

  1. I wish I had my notes from when I was a student, Amanda. But we’re talking 1974! I know most people quite reasonably find portfolios a chore, but I would really love to have a portfolio from my own practice learning back in 1974 – essays and assignments don’t quite do it. I kept them (essays) for about 20 years then binned them – a portfolio I would definitely have kept. I think you’re right about the value of keeping on-going reflective notes into qualified practice.


    1. They have always been pretty important reminders of my professional journey, more so now I’ve brought them back out and read through them.

      On the shelves of my office sit my practice placement portfolios, all three of them… Around 30 thousand words each. I’m not sure if my PE ‘s viewed penance as a practice skill or a practice value, either way all three of them put me through my paces.

      I’ve leafted through the pages a number of times with students… Harping on to the tune of ‘in my day’ something I promised myself I’d never ever say #failed badly.

      I’ve thought about letting them go a few times but each time I lift them down to dispose of them I get this overwhelming need to set them back… I’m still not quite ready to let them go.

      Maybe one day they’ll deteriorate and come to their natural end without me having to actively engage …


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