As we start the end of May bank holiday, spring is on its way. This is a good time for reflection and particularly in the training or teaching calendar. The academic calendar is coming to a close and exams are looming which prompts many students to reflect as part of the learning and revision process. For others, spring heralds a time when we can reflect on our aims we set at the beginning of the year and how we are measuring up? Often we find that we haven't made the progress we had planned and this can lead to panic and a cry for help. The May Day call is actually 'm'aider', French for 'help me' rather than refer to a particular time of year. In the cult TV show Red Drawf, there is an amusing sketch about why the distress call is May Day and not any other notable day. Humour aside this is the time of year when concern sets in and there may be crys for help. What's interesting is that many learners do not come forward and ask for this directly but there are clear warning signs that support is required.
So what are warning signs we shouldn't ignore?
*Repeating training over and over again
*Procrastination and avoidance
Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Taking training sessions repeatedly is an indication of other issues. There may be a lack of confidence not competence and redoing training can provide reassurance. The act of redoing something as part of reflection should be encouraged, however often repeating the training can lead to disappointment as it may not fulfil the confidence need. Many training sessions focus on the learning transfer rather than building confidence. Furthermore 'confidence' can be tricky to identify as often we do not recognise that we lack confidence until we try it! Experimental learning integrated within the training can assist the confidence need. Having deadlines to review aims, goals are progress is also important and facilitating opportunities to 'take stock' can provide essential support.
Sometimes we procrastinate and not realise we are doing this. It is easy to become very busy doing the things we like rather than the things we have to do. Sometimes we do the things we don't like but not what needs to done urgently. It's rarely that we don't know what needs to be done or the urgency of an activity but that we are simply not motivated to do it. Procrastination can be positive as it eventually will lead to action, if the process needs speeding up creative activities provide a good starting point. Creative thinking enables us to think and feel differently and taps into our natural problem solving skills. This can bring valuable insight into a task as well as generate more motivation to complete it.
Driven to distraction
Taking time out is important not just to ensure a good work/life balance but to keep on track in achieving your goals. Being easily distracted often occurs as a consequence of not having dedicated enough time for a break or time away from a situation. When we are overloaded or overwhelmed we become distracted to try and manufacture this time away. Making a good to do list can help to regain focus. Another technique is to actively decide not to do a task and regain the power of choice in the activities you needs to complete.
The best advice is to keep a look out for the signs and calls for help, if ignored now they may manifest as bigger issues later. Generally speaking, this time of year is an excellent time for casual drop in sessions and reflective support. Recognising the signs, identifying issues and providing support subtlety can make May Days happy days!