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Shared on March 7, 2019 at 2:24 pm

The Advantages Of Keeping A Teacher Reflection Journal

In many cases, the last thing a hardworking educator wants is more paperwork. IEP’s, AIP’s, Parent conferences, Progress reports…the paperwork trail can never be tread lightly and the pen to paper process can be tedious and horribly redundant even for those who don't know how to write a narrative essay by themselves. But every new teacher should keep a reflection journal as one more part of their career, even if it after contract hours have expired. Why add to the paperwork?

1.) Tweaking and Adding..and Sometimes Deleting Entirely

It amazes me what used to pass as a classwork assignment when I first started teaching. I confess, some assignments appeared to be little more than busy work, and students picked up on it quickly. One such assignment was something I coined as “Two Column Notes.” Here, a student would read a paragraph, create a question based on this paragraph, and answer it. Talk about boring and mindless. Another had them come up with 10 facts regarding a video they watched on television. Upon receiving the classwork, I received such gems as “Pigeons have feathers,” and “There are many trees in Colorado.” Upon writing in a reflection log about these utter failures, I realized I was not a terrible teacher… just one that had very crummy classwork assignments. Upon looking over my own personalized notes, I realized I needed to suck it up and eliminate some assignments like two column notes, tweak my “fact find” video assignment into something more specific, and add more thought-provoking and challenging classwork. Without a reflection log regarding student apathy, I might not have caught my own apathy.

2.) Fond and Not so Fond Memories…

I remember a student named Jessica from my first year. She was the class clown and worked the room better than Jerry Seinfeld worked a packed comedy center. But there are still some students that slipped out of my memory. Maria who gave me the middle finger my fifth year. Lea who provided an exquisite stone about the importance of teaching for my not-so-grand garden. Brandon who gave me a $50 Outback Gift card. Kelly who told me school (and my class) is pointless. The list would be impossible to remember; thousands of students have graced my classroom over the years. But keeping these thoughts in a teacher reflection journal revives the memories, both painful and pleasant. And even the ones we, as educators, would like to forget bring a reminiscing smirk to the corners of every educator’s mouth.

3.) It’s All About the Professional Growth

The way I handled Jessica the comedian my first year as a teacher is not the same way I would deal with her today. My angst as a teacher has largely evaporated through the passage of time. Wisdom through experience has set in and I am comfortable controlling a classroom. Now, it is far more likely that I am the class clown, demanding attention through my unpredictability but also teaching my craft to the best of my ability. And what can I largely attribute to my success? Reflecting on past mistakes, thoroughly scribed in my reflection log. There, I largely discovered that giving students eighty-five chances to “behave please” was not very efficient. I realized that providing humdrum assignments was boring them to the point of a coma and being too serious and stern was making me as popular as Mussolini. Professional growth is imperative for a new teacher and a well written reflection journal can serve to hasten the process.

I can smile at my shortcomings from previous school years and wince at students’ names that brought sleepless nights many moons ago. Memories are immortalized through a reflection journal, both good and bad. And some day, when the fluorescent lights flick off for the last time in my classroom, my reflection log may serve one more purpose: A career enjoyed and fulfilled.

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