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Format for Writing a Case in Field Education Placement

I. BACKGROUND: Provide enough information to set the event in context with a description of setting, persons, or related events. Is there any prior history that would serve as context? (Previous interactions, decisions, etc. that are pertinent)

II. DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENT: Describe what happened and what you did. Report the event in as much detail as possible. You may describe the event in narrative form, verbatim, or a combination of the two. Try not to evaluate or interpret the event at this point, but focus on describing what happened. It takes a certain discipline to "see" and not to judge.

"(t)here is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go. When I see this way I sway transfixed and emptied. The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment's light prints on my own silver gut. When I see this second way I am above all an unscrupulous observer."

-- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

III. ANALYSIS: As if you are turning light through a prism, consider the event from the following points of view, so that you might add to your consideration of "what is going on here?"

A. Psychological Concerns
Some ways to get at this might be:

  • Reflect on your own feelings and emotions that were present during the event
  • Give attention to interpersonal dynamics that took place between people
  • Share your "hunches" about psychological dynamics present in the situation

B. Sociological Concerns
Some ways to get at this might be:

  • Consider any social forces that might be operative in this situation, e.g. racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc.
  • Reflect on ways in which power, authority, institutional politics impacted this event
  • Think about ways in which this event allowed you to think critically about your own culture, and perhaps to consider your own social location from a different vantage point.

C. Personal Concerns
Some ways to get at this might be:

  • Give some attention to what this situation stirred up in you personally (feelings, memories, etc.)
  • Reflect on any "aha moments" you had (any new learnings, insights, awarenesses)
  • Recall ways in which this situation challenged your "comfort zone"

D. Pastoral or Professional Concerns
Some ways to get at this might be:

  • Think about how you would describe your role in this situation, (i.e. priest, prophet, preacher, pastor, counselor, etc.)
  • Consider ways in which this situation raises vocational or identity questions for you
  • Articulate questions or dilemmas regarding pastoral practice that might be sparked by this situation

IV. THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION: Now that you have begun to understand this situation from a variety of viewpoints, it is time to turn to the heart of the matter, or theological reflection. Theological reflection is the disciplined process of making connections between our lived experience and:

  • our faith/ beliefs
  • our evolving understanding of God, Jesus, Spirit, grace, sin/salvation, conversion, prayer, etc.
  • the religious tradition which we claim (or with which we struggle, or both)

Give this part of your case your best attention. Some ways to get at this might be:

  • Reflect on the ways in which this event intersects with your own faith or belief. Are there ways in which a conviction(s) of yours is challenged, stretched, confirmed or enhanced?
  • Consider how you would translate this event into theological language, images, or categories
  • Articulate the theological questions or dilemmas that are at stake in the event you described. (e.g., does the event raise the theological question of the efficacy of prayer, or perhaps make you wonder if God really does have a preferential
    option for the poor?)
  • Consult other sources such as holy texts, other thinkers, poets, denominational statements/creeds: how do others approach the question or dilemma you have named?

V. ASSESSMENT OF YOUR PASTORAL PRACTICE: Briefly indicate the ways in which you thought you were effective or ineffective in this situation

VI. FUTURE ACTION: In what ways might this reflection inform future actions in this situation, or in similar situations you might encounter?