I remember being a university student and at the beginning of each semester my lecturers would hand out the subject outlines and a list of the assessments for that course. Most students always go straight to the assessment section, including me. I remember this particular semester, one of our assignments was to keep a teaching journal. We were asked to record down our experiences as a teacher whilst on Practicum and to reflect on what we were learning.
When I first saw this assignment, I groaned on the inside – I couldn’t see how this was going to help me be a better teacher. I thought back to my other Practicum experiences and how busy I was – I would not have time to write in a journal every day. I decided it was a pointless exercise.
But, being the good student I was, I did keep a daily journal during my Practicum that semester. The results of this simple discipline were pleasantly surprising. Within a few days of writing my thoughts down, I began to look forward to my journal time at the end of each day. I wrote down the things I did well during the day and I reflected on the ‘up’ moments of my day and where I excelled. I began to see strengths in my teaching skills and I began to recognize my own ‘style’ as a teacher. I also began to see specific areas where I could improve and I was able to incorporate these improvements into the following day. It was a cathartic experience and built my self esteem as a teacher.
Since then, I have maintained this discipline of daily reflection. Just 60 seconds a day makes ALL the difference. Much of what is recorded in my journal are funny stories and moments with students (I seem to have a lot of them) as well as moments where I felt I was a brilliant teacher. I also record things I learn about myself and my tendencies, and of course areas I want to improve. All in all, when I read back over my journal entries, I always feel encouraged that teaching is truly one of the most rewarding endeavors.
As a teacher, try and learn something new each day about yourself, your teaching style, your strengths, your areas for improvement, and your students. The best way to reflect on and remember your experiences is to write them down. Find a journal ‘system’ that works for you – write in a book, send yourself an email, whatever works. But do it every day. Just 60 seconds is all it takes.
Change your tomorrow by reflecting for 60 seconds today.
Some helpful questions to ask are:
1) What was my most memorable moment today?
2) What humourous story do I have from today?
3) What do I feel I achieved today?
4) What did I struggle with today?
5) What was my greatest moment of satisfaction?
6) What was my greatest moment of frustration? How can I respond differently next time?
7) What improvements can I make?
8) What did I learn from another teacher?
Enjoy the journey,
And more importantly,
Enjoy the moments.