Saturday, October 25, 2014

The T-files: Keeping a Work Journal

A work journal. Kind of like study-notes for the teacher. The first time I had to write study notes, I was in grade seven, and had to write a review of a science unit. I complained, did it, and was amazed to see that, yes, this was indeed a useful practice. In high school math, you couldn't take tests or exams without having handed in study notes. I was ahead of the game, since I was used to writing them. I kept up with study notes on my own accord during university (so much nicer to review my own notes and chapter summaries than to go through every single reading and jots taken during lectures), and transitioned to a work journal whilst completing my final internship at an art gallery.

The work journal was obligatory, but I knew it would help me. It came in very handy when I had to write my final paper. Areas I'd struggled with, excelled in, ways I'd grown, concrete facts and skills I'd learned, they were all there. Professionally, a work journal is useful when it comes to preparing for interviews. I've drawn on mine for many a covering letter and portfolio. All in all, a work journal is a great tool for reflection.

Rich Leather Wrap Journal Large Brown
i love this journal from chapters
I keep a teaching journal, apart from my teaching agenda, where I write down the day's triumphs or tragedies. If an activity bombed, I try to work out why, and whether it's worth trying again. If the students really loved something (Pete the Cat comes to mind, also directed play-dough use and, well, stickers), I write that down so I'll remember it for future use.

I keep notes of sweet things students say, and of course hilarious anecdotes, always nice to see after I've had a rough class. I write down the tough stuff, too. Sometimes, it's me. Sometimes, it's them, Sometimes, it just is what it is. Reflecting helps me avoid overly guilt tripping or glorifying myself.

Just as I enjoy looking back through my personal journals and seeing how I've grown and changed as a person, I think it will also be fun to look back on my work-self, especially once I've reached the golden age of retirement. 

My work journal doesn't take a lot of time, just a few minutes now and then, and not necessarily daily, but by doing it I've been able to build myself a great tool for teaching with joy.

No comments:

Post a Comment