1. There are always multiple sides to a story. When you are working with children, you cannot forget that they may sprinkle in little white lies here and there, or completely fabricate stories. Do not forget that there is their story, another persons story, and the truth! (M. Faughnan, personal communication)
2. You will need to establish a reputation in your school. For example, if you are working in a high school, kids do not really care what you have to say. The exception to this is, if you are an authority figure (like a principal), or if you are well respected among the students. So start building positive relationships early on to gain that respect! (S. Bligen, personal communication)
3. Parents can be a huge source of information. However, not all parents are willing to talk. Be prepared to do a little (or a lot of) investigative work. (S. Bligen, personal communication)
4. You will be a mandated reporter. This means you are an advocate for these children, and you have a legal responsibility to report abuse if you suspect it. (J. Vassello, personal communication)
5. You will have support systems. If you are ever unsure of something, there are hotlines that you can call, and committees in your local community that you can seek out. On top of that, you may have other social workers in your department, or a licensed psychologist to solicit advice from. (S. Bligen, personal communication)
6. With K-5, pictures are a good way to gather information. This information will not always be clear cut, however. You need to become very good at deciphering small amounts of symbolism and decode what the picture really means to the child. (S. Bligen, personal communication)
7. You may face a lot of criticism. Parents, children, co-workers, and administrators. They may all have issues with you or your handling of a case throughout your career, and this can be very overwhelming. (M. Faughnan, personal communication)
8. You will have a large case load, compared to other sub fields of social work. Your case load could be in the hundreds, and you could potentially be overseeing multiple grades of children. This is a big responsibility! (S. Bligen, personal communication)
9. You may have some clients that dont want to talk to you. It may take weeks, even months for some students to open up. You need to be prepared for this and have the necessary patience that comes with this type of situation. Some students may never even talk to you, dont take this personal. They may just need a different social worker of a different gender, or race, that makes them feel more comfortable. (S. Bligen, personal communication)
10. Ultimately, you will be combining many sub fields of social work while working as a school social worker. For example, in one week you could deal with homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and child welfare issues.
S. Bligen, personal communication, April 7, 2016.
M. Faughnan, personal communication, April 5, 2016.
J. Vassello, personal communication, April 7, 2016.