Since I started my M.A. last autumn I’ve been keeping a journal in various forms.
For the last month or so this has become a notebook in which I write a few thoughts, often questions actually, EVERY EVENING, except Saturday – my official day off.
At first I did it to impress my tutor, and because I’m a good student, but it’s grown on me and here are some of the reasons why;
1. It’s the sink cleaning of the brain – just as washing up and tidying the kitchen wouldn’t be complete without a quick swill round the sink with a sponge, my teacher brain needs emptying into my notebook before I can settle down in guilt-free mode to my other life, superhero, or slouching on the sofa, who cares? What does count is this conclusion to the working day.
2. Ask a question – Jarvis (1996) called it a problem-solving device, and I have taken to using my journal as an oracle, I often write questions, such as recently “how can I correct tests with them so they actually learn from their mistakes?” Every week I reread parts of my journal and low and behold, an answer, or more often a suggestion appears to me.
3. It’s good to think about what you’ve done – time goes so quickly in class, if I don’t stop and think about it regularly the term has gone. How can I avoid teaching the same year ten times (as opposed to having ten years’ experience) if I don’t slow down and take a look from time to time?
4. It’s a good way of finding new ideas – often as I’m noting down what we did in class follow up activities spring to mind, which I think is great as I’m guilty of starting loads of new projects and activities without looking back at old ones, and the pupils really appreciate revisiting an old topic. I hear my colleagues complain that they can’t remember their dates in history or their formulas in maths, yet since our fun practising the past activity the other week everyone can remember than S. saw her friends, Thomas swam, and I’ll never forget that Anna bought a pen.
5. It helps you sleep – and for a teacher that’s a godsend! Once I’ve written it all down I can turn the page and the lightswitch, knowing that, even if I haven’t solved all the world’s problems, then I have at least asked some important questions and so the answer will come to me tomorrow.
What about you? Do you keep a journal? If so, what reasons can you add?