Well I’m back! After a long summer doing radio shows, streaming gaming and enjoying everything from walks in the sunshine to sitting watching films I am back and entering once more into my blogging habits. It’s been a while since I have actually written/typed/recorded/created a waffle for this site so please be gentle with me and stick with them until I get back into the swing of things. Talking about getting into the swing of things, I thought I would spend this first waffle providing some advice. Don’t worry, it will not be about relationships or dieting. As many of us go back to work, students begin university and trainee teachers head back into classrooms which now can be considered as their own, I thought I would share with you my three ‘gets’ to success.
Who would have thought that September would actually become the start of the year. January must be pretty annoyed that she has had some of her importance taken away from her by September. As we either return to our usual jobs or start something new, we always seem to set ourselves goals relating to things which we are determined to do differently this year at work. Whether these be to not get stressed, to actually stop for lunch or even just to finish on time, we can often set ourselves targets which we know, from past experience, we will only actually maintain during the first week or so and then, after that, we will return to our normal habits. I once read that it takes thirty days to form a habit. If we keep committed to a new way of work for that long then we might actually see it become embedded within our normal practice. In order to hopefully provide you all with some advice about starting back at work or studying I would like to share with you my three ‘gets’ which I think, if you can maintain for those thirty days, will support you through the long working year ready to embrace that summer vacation which currently seems so far away.
Get Motivated – I was discussing in the first professional studies session with our new first years what the definition of learning might be. It is interesting to engage with the historical perspective of this topic including as far back as Socrates and Aristotle. When considering the factors which actually promote and/or hinder learning, one factor which was identified was that of motivation. Coming in two forms, intrinsic and extrinsic, the discussion included how positive motivation can actually encourage learning and support us as we strive towards goals and targets. Without motivation, it is quite easy to fall by the wayside and suddenly find ourselves back at the start of any journey. Although it is important to stay motivated as we work towards new goals and targets, perhaps more important is to find the motivation to support why we are implementing the change. In many learning journeys we struggle through certain periods of time, examinations and often long evenings of work in order to achieve something which we have set ourselves. To me, this end goal is in itself the motivation to keep going and to plough into new ground. As well as writing down the targets, goals or even actions to achieve something, it is perhaps more important to analyse why you are actually doing it. This in itself forms the basis of the intrinsic motivation which you can always keep in the back of your mind or, in my case, stuck to the wall at the foot of my bed, to remind you why you are doing something, especially at those moments when you feel that everything is going wrong and you are about to give up.
Get Organised – As we embark on any new journey or start a new job, it is often difficult to know what the future is planning for us. As the students start university, they might have preconceived ideas of what might lay ahead of them. Indeed when I started my new job as an academic working within higher education, I had a perceived idea that it was going to be like the Oxford I had seen in several episodes of Lewis. Luckily I was proved wrong although certain aspects would have been great to experience. You can never prepare fully for a new job or your time at university mainly because you have no idea of what to expect. This does not, however, mean that you can not be organised. Often when we start something new, there is a wealth of facts, information, meetings, events and new knowledge which cascades down onto us presenting us with that feeling that although everyone around us appears to know what is going on, we are left completely in the dark. Although you can not be ready for every eventuality in your new job/learning environment, being organised can help you achieve some understanding and perhaps order from the apparent madness which will be appearing around you. Consider how you are going to record tasks and meetings – whether this be electronically or in paper form – capturing these and acting on them will allow you to keep up to date with things. Designate times for engaging with emails and virtual learning environments as well as time to socialise and meet new people. Ensure that you have an initial effective filing system which you can revisit to adapt and change every few weeks avoiding saying to yourself that until you have the full picture, you can not possibly attempt to create an effective way to store things why? because even after a year you will probably still not have the complete picture. Finally organise your time wisely – don’t over do any aspect and keep everything in perspective.
Get Support – Unless you are flying off to an undiscovered moon at the far reaches of our solar system, I would venture to say that what ever you are going, someone has probably done it before. They might not have done it well but they will have experienced the situation and will have identified some of the common pitfalls and stumbling blocks which will possibly hinder you. I think there is something rather British about keeping our heads down and ploughing forward trying to solve everything ourselves. It is almost seen as a weakness to ask for or even discuss how people complete their jobs and the strategies which they have in place. As we start something new, especially if we are taking over a new job and the previous occupant is still around to provide us with some transition advice, I have often hear myself saying in my head that I will do things my way and that things will change. I’m not suggesting that we should listen to people and do things exactly the same way over and over again. That would almost prevent the possibility of change and improvement. What I am saying is that there are a lot of people out there who have already gone through the ‘discovering the wheel’ phase of a job and have created a system which works for them and have ironed many of the hindering wrinkles. I have often taken the role of mentor for new members of staff and one thing I establish with them very early on is that I will not be telling them how to do things. My role, if they wish, is to ask me how I do things and then, after they have listened to this, they can adapt and alter it to suit their own ways of working. When I left primary education to start working at university, my headteacher made the joke that I was going to go away and train all new teachers to be the same as me. Apart from that being a very scary thought, I would never want people to do things the same as me, mainly because I am sure that people could do things better. However, what I do hope is that they would be willing to ask me how I did or do things in order to maybe start not right at the beginning of a task. By talking to people who are established in the job or learning situation, we can perhaps roll a six and land on a ladder which helps us gain a boost on our journey to that goal.
As many of us start a new year I hope that you have been able to take something from my three ‘gets’. You never know, this time next year you might be starting something else completely new knowing that you can actually achieve it since you have been successful this year. There are probably numerous ‘gets’ which I could have included within this waffle although I like to stay with three. If you do have any more advice then please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.
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Have fun and I’ll catch you later and, until then, consider yourself waffled.