By Judith Stanley, the UFBA’s Representative on the National Training Standards Committee
Training and learning are two parts of the same equation that leads to competent firefighters. As individual firefighters, we rely on the skills developed during training to see us right when we respond to a range of incidents. Learning is a survival skill, on and off the job.
The UFBA is exploring ways to get involved with the development of resources that support the TAPS and OSM framework, and that recognise the need for flexibility and variety in meeting the learning needs of volunteer firefighters. It’s all about developing a culture of continuous learning amongst firefighters.
The mediums available to refresh our thinking include more than just the printed word. Electronic and web-based resources include videos from around the world, web games, social networking (Facebook etc), as well as static images like posters, pocket references, learning plans, PowerPoint displays, and planners. Variety is the key to continuous learning, particularly for those of us with a low boredom threshold. It’s never been easier to learn.
The new website is a step in this direction. The hope is that the UFBA will be able to do more in the areas of training and resources going forward.
Here are a few ideas to make your learning time more efficient. Try different things and find something that works for you:
- Be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound) in your planning.
- Make a commitment to learn something new every day.
- Plan blocks of time for learning. Ten minutes revising an activity is better than no time at all.
- Review training activity or incident the next day to improve your understanding. Do it alone or with others – whatever works for you.
- Draw a diagram of a training session or incident scenario to better understand the outcomes.
- Value your time and use it wisely.
- Make learning a priority in your life.
- Know your own strengths and weaknesses.
- Make time to play and be active. It’s good for the brain and the body.
- Do something new and interesting. Boredom kills the imagination and imagination is the key to innovation.
- Plan time for constructive reflection.
- Make a daily, weekly, and monthly ‘to do’ list.
- Review your ‘to do’ lists to ensure the objectives and priorities remain relevant.
- Identify activities that you consider to be ‘time wasters’ and try to reduce them.
- Use a diary or calendar to plan your time.
- Be prepared to say ‘no’ to people who ask too much, or if you are over-committed.
- Set at least one major objective every day.
- Ask questions to help figure stuff out. Why and how are good starters.
- Finish what you start.
- Do it now!
As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
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