Create the Habit of Reflective Writing

Developing the habit of reflective writing can help you analyze, organize, and improve your teaching.

By Dawn Dodson

person journaling

What went right? What could have gone better? Did I meet my goals? These are some of the questions I reflect upon as I write in my journal. Reflective writing is an important practice for all professional educators, rookies, and veterans alike. During my undergraduate studies, most of the professors required us to keep a journal of our experiences and reactions to our learning. Looking back, it was a priceless practice that contributed greatly to my personal development as a teacher. Ten years later, reflective writing is a habit that continues to benefit my teaching.  

Recording Our Reflections

Recording our reactions to circumstances and events around us, especially those that affect instruction and the overall learning environment, affords us the opportunity to analyze and think critically about how to remediate various situations. Making reflecting and recording a habit means creating the possibility to improve instruction and management of our classrooms. I have endeavored to propose some different strategies and means for reflective writing that can be used to celebrate, motivate, and remediate my teaching practice.

Creating Reflection Time

Choosing, or finding the time, and the best means for recording one’s thoughts and feelings over the course of a work day is a personal decision. For example, sitting down at your desk after everyone has left the classroom may be an opportune time for you to jot down a few thoughts. Others, like me, may still be pondering the day right after school gets out. Thus, I find that the best time to write down my reflections is at home in the evening. I like to record my thoughts on an old-fashioned legal pad. My reflections may be written in a paragraph format or a list; it all depends on the topic. There are no time or word-limit rules. This is free writing time. Basically, my legal pad functions in the same manner as my pupils’ writer’s notebooks.     

Topics of Reflection

There are no rules for reflective writing. Its really simply a discipline to help you to analyze and reflect upon the events and people that you’ve encountered throughout the day. Just as there are no rules for recording reflections, there are also no rules as to the topic of reflections. Writing about a pupil that is struggling may help shed light on strategies and/or resources that have not been utilized. In my own experience, I may look back at several entries about a struggling pupil and discover patterns or trends to certain behaviors. Or perhaps, I will become aware that there are certain environmental factors that I’m not noticing during the school day. Sometimes I write about lessons that didn’t go as planned, or use my reflection time to help organize upcoming lessons and projects. I find this writing time is especially helpful if I am going to try something new. Of course, there are times when a teacher needs to vent, writing is a great avenue for venting. Similarly, it is a great tool for de-stressing.

Benefits of Reflective Writing

As I already mentioned above, reflective writing may help to identify areas of remediation. It will also help you to organize your thinking, and record the things you want to celebrate. Taking a few minutes to record the story of the struggling teen who finally understood how to solve the problem, and the subsequent reactions, will help you to remember moments that are often forgotten along the way. Paraphrase encouraging letters, e-mails, cards, or conversations that you want to remember. Then, sometime later, when you are having a difficult time, you can look back at your writings and find some much-needed motivation and inspiration. Are you inspired to begin recording your reflections? Take a moment to glance below at the additional resources from Lesson Planet.

More Writing Articles:

Start Planning for the Fall Now

This is a fabulous article by Alicia Johnson to use as you begin recording your reflections. Specifically, the article will help you analyze the current school year and organize your thoughts in preparation for the next.

Writing Worksheets Can Help Students Organize Their Thoughts

Here, you will find writing ideas and organizational strategies. Although the article is geared for pupils, some of the ideas can help writers of any age begin the practice of daily, organized writing.

New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers

An article by Cathy Neushul that highlights, inspires, and motivates teachers to create change in the upcoming year, or school year.