As we learn and deepen our expertise, what was once fresh learning becomes implicit. For example, it’s hard for me to remember what it felt like to be a novice behind the wheel. Over the course of years and countless trips in the car, my brain and corresponding muscle movements have deeply ingrained in my memory what was once completely new and foreign to me. While my wife might disagree, I have become an expert driver.
Of course constant repetition is one way to commit new learning to long term memory. While there are other strategies that can enhance memory, most of them require some type of mental reworking of the material. Summarizing in writing, visual cues, and revisiting notes before bed, are all in essence a deliberate review of new material.
Some of the most dynamic and influential mentors in my life made a habit of using a journal to reflect and help move new learning into long term memory. Journaling certainly qualifies as a powerful strategy for consolidating learning. While I have long had a habit in my personal life of journaling, my professional record of journaling is more hit and miss. I was especially vigilant as a graduate student working on my master’s degree in School Leadership, and thought it might be fun to revisit and share some of my most influential reflections during that year of study. I called it my School Leadership Processing Journal, and combined visual and written cues to keep it interesting.
So here’s my post from Day 1 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. We started with big questions about our purpose – not just why we were studying school leadership, but to really ask ourselves about our driving purpose. What do we hope to accomplish with our lives, and how is that related to our professional work and identity? The question of leadership becomes how we shift our core values into the shared goals of an organization.