If you’ve ever found yourself second-guessing yourself as a teacher, you’re not alone. There are times when we all struggle with some aspect of teaching. We compare ourselves to other teachers and often miss what we do really well. Daily journaling and reflection is a great way to rediscover what you’re doing right as a teacher.
Reflection happens constantly in teaching. We reflect during and after most lessons, especially the ones that don’t go as planned. What we don’t always do is celebrate our successes and write down measureable goals to improve.
I remember my second year teaching when they started requiring us to reflect at the end of the year as part of our teacher evaluation. I really struggled with this because at that point in the year I couldn’t really remember what happened earlier in the school year. It was all a blur. After this experience I started journaling weekly about my lessons and experiences as a teacher.
I moved to daily written reflections several years later when I was really struggling to keep things fresh. You could say I was going through my “mid-career” crisis. I felt like my lessons were getting stale and I wasn’t as motivated as I was in prior years. Daily reflections really rejuvenated my teaching and were also therapeutic in a way. There were many days where I dealt with a difficult student, parent, or staff member, and the journaling helped me reflect on the situations and ultimately handle them in a calmer fashion.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, daily journaling has the following mental heath benefits:
- Anxiety management
- Stress reduction
- Less depression
- Helping prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
I wish I had started this from day one in my teaching career. I missed out on a lot of the advantages of reflection and journaling!
When is the best time to do a written reflection?
I’ve found that the best time to reflect daily is first thing in the morning and right after students leave.
There’s so much to get done in the morning, but I’ve found that if I set aside 10 minutes every morning to fill in my morning reflection that I start the day happier and more confident in myself. I also use the time to eat a quick breakfast and have coffee so that I don’t start the day hungry or cranky!
Immediately after students leave for the day, I sit down to reflect and journal. Even if I have a meeting to hurry off to, I’ve found that the 5 minutes is easy to fit in. I then setup my classroom for the next day and leave on time. This is also important for your sanity!
What do I write?
A blank piece of paper has never worked for me. I find it easier to reflect if I have questions and specific points I need to fill in every day.
- Today’s Goals
- Something I’m grateful for
- Something I’m excited about
- Affirmation (I use a daily affirmation app on my phone because I’m just not good at coming up with one on my own!)
- Today’s Wins
- Something I need to do better
- A few lines for journaling thoughts
The forms for daily AND weekly reflections are available for free below!