Practice, Practice, Practice

Theory may not be easy, but practice is hard. So often I think about the words “putting theory into practice” and so I simply think of practice and theory as a pair of things that inform each other. I often think of practice as a rough synonym for “putting words and ideas into action.” The start of a new semester, though, has made me think about the word practice in a slightly different way.

Shifting from one set of patterns-of-action to another has always been more difficult than it seems like it should be for me. Even when the change is positive, it’s change, and it’s not easy. I have this thought again at the beginning of each semester of graduate school, as my course and work schedules shift all around and my iCal starts to look like a wild explosion of colorful boxes, all overlapping. It’s getting into the habit of a new schedule and a new rhythm that always takes a bit of time.

Although this class is called Professional Practice, I had never previously considered the links that this sort of practice might have with practicing yoga, practicing a daily time for writing or reflection, or trying to get into the practice of eating X amount of fruits and veggies each day.

But, building new professional routines — ways of gathering information and reading to keep up on the field of librarianship and learning — and getting into the flow of regular writing and blogging are indeed ways of building regular routines (yes, practice) that will serve us well as we all make the transition from school back into full-time (paid) work.

Trying to figure out just when I might fit in my weekly blogging over the last week+ felt strangely close to trying to figure out the new patterns of when to do yoga or go to the gym. I know that once the rhythms are set, they will feel like second nature. But right now, things still feel a little messy. One reason is because it’s still early in the semester. Another is the schedule-crunch of helping out with Quasi-Con 2012 (hooray!).

But let’s be honest — there will always be external forces making it hard to nurture any regular practice. That’s my challenge: to set those patterns and rhythms in a sustained enough way that I stay engaged — whether that’s being engaged in the word of libraries, being engaged in a regular yoga practice, or being engaged in writing or interpreting text or music.

So, here’s to practice. It doesn’t make perfect, and it doesn’t make permanent (despite what my 11th grade English teacher said), but it can make things more sustained, grounded and directed, even in he midst of a lot of other life changes. It’s not easy, and that’s why I’m thankful for a supportive group of classmates and colleagues to help me along, keep me honest, and keep me moving and learning.

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2 thoughts on “Practice, Practice, Practice

  1. I really related to what you said here about the effort to develop a new practice. When I started teaching for the first time a couple years ago as a TA, I was struck (and exhausted sometimes!) by how much emotional effort and resiliency it required. Resiliency and flexibility seem like related and complementary attributes that anyone in public service needs, but habits that can’t really be taught — just (l)earned through trial and error. I wonder how an experienced teacher or librarian would describe their understanding of resiliency in the profession — can that skill/habit be broken down into smaller habits that are easier for a novice to understand? I’m not sure …

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