Journaling: A How-to Guide for Teachers

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To kick off 2016, we talked about the importance of reflection as a teacher.  So often we can get bogged down in the day to day rigor of just being a teacher.  Think about what goes into your day after you finish teaching.  Grading papers, preparing for the next lessons, organizing and cleaning the classroom, congregational duties, and other teaching duties just to name a few.  We can quickly become overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, taking the time to reflect can often get pushed to the side.

Now what if I told you that you could do your job of reflection in just five, short minutes every day?  Would you be more likely to make that a habit and set it into your daily routine?

Thankfully, this is possible.  A small, simple journal is all you need.  Now those of us who were graduates of Martin Luther College perhaps remember, with horror, those special, little things known as reflection journals during student teaching.  Let me be clear, that is not what I’m talking about when I refer to journaling.

We need something doable.  Something that we can look forward to each day and make a routine in our daily schedule as a teacher.  Our goal shouldn’t be a two-page written essay in a notebook.  If that excites you, more power to you.  However, for the rest of us, a short bulleted list does the trick with the same effect.

How can we effectively journal with an eye on reflection as busy, Lutheran educators?  I present to you a few, simple tips.  If you have ideas to add, please share in the comment section.  I would love to hear from you.

SHORT AND SWEET

We simply don’t have the time for an essay.  Furthermore, I don’t even have the desire for an essay.  What I do have a desire for is growth.  A bulleted list of thoughts from the day can make all the difference in the world.  For instance, just this week, I made a bulleted list of specifics that I want to work on for the next school year.  That journal entry was followed up by what has gone well so far this school year.  Sometimes the best journal entries are a simple question or two.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ROUTINE

Don’t go more than two days without journaling.  At that point, it is too easy to get out of the habit of doing this every day.  After all, we are creatures of habit.

HANDWRITE

I love my computer.  It’s a beautiful Macbook Pro 🙂  However, it is much too distracting for when I want to use it as a journal.  Inevitably, an email message or iMessage pops up at just the wrong time.  Handwrite your journal.  You will find that this old-fashioned method serves the mind well for reflection.

PUT IN A PROMINENT PLACE

For those of you who know me, God has not given me the gift of organization.  If you are much like me, placing your journal in a prominent place is of the utmost importance.  The last thing you want to do at the end of a long day is search for something like a journal for five minutes.

DON’T BE PICKY

This is my favorite!  Don’t worry about spelling, mechanics, or grammar….yipee!!!  Just write!

There you have it.  A few random thoughts from a very random mind.  If you are interested in my entire blog post on the importance of reflection, you can check it out by clicking on the following link.

Resolve to Grow as a Teacher

In the meanwhile, I am going to journal!

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