There’s been lots of mirth at my house tonight as the Murphlets (my offspring) see me enact new control techniques I learnt today. See, in my day job I’m a teacher, and I have spent today (as well as a day last week and another set for next week) learning classroom management strategies. Some of these are things I’ve known and used for years, others are new, but either way I have come home full of these strategies and ready to try them out. So the Murphlets have been privy to the stare, the minimal verbal command, the gesture, and even the square-off. They’re on to me and know I’m trying out new techniques – so there has been lots of laughter – but at the same time every time I have tried one of these techniques I have reinforced the things I learnt today – and it’s been fun.
You see, whenever we are taught something, we are certain to retain only a portion of what we learn. But research (and common sense) shows that the sooner we put that learning to use into practise, the more we will retain. So, home from a day of Professional Development (PD), I’ve been busily using those skills so that they stay with me.
Why am I telling you this? Because, if you’re a writer, or an aspiring writer, chances are you are regularly learning new skills – through reading blogs like this one, or attending writing workshops, or reading books on writing. But are you using those skills? All of them? Online especially it is really easy to click on links and read blogs and articles and writing advice. And when you read them you probably nod in agreement or have lightbulb moments when you think “ahhh – THAT is what I need to try.” But do you then sit down and put those things into action? Do you actually write after you read? I know I don’t always do it. Sometimes I think will use the skills later, but other times, if I’m really honest, I am quite happy to just keep clicking and reading because I can pretend to myself that I’m learning when what I’m really doing is avoiding a deadline, or even avoiding facing the fact that I’m not writing.
Having admitted this so publicly, next time I learn a new writing skill, I’m going to attempt to use it straight away. Because I need to keep expanding my skills base in writing as much as in teaching – maybe more. What about you?