The 10 things I have loved and learned about reflecting using my Personal Reflections of an Educator Journal
Educator Reflective Practice in Action!
This was my first year keeping a Personal Reflections of an Educator journal. In fact, it was everyone’s first year. This amazing (and yes I’m biased) journal was only born a year and a bit ago and it has certainly taken my life by storm.
I thought I would go through the 10 things I have learned and loved and share them with you…
1. I learned how to sustain a reflection journal for a year! Go me! Seriously. A 12-month-long commitment to goal setting and being reflective. I deserve a gold star or two.
2. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let go of perfection and JUST START. I found myself getting all wrapped up in “What will they think?!” vortex of self-doubt – mainly because I was using this journal to support others and to road test our product. What better way to understand something than to use it myself? I wrote in a way that I was comfortable in sharing with others both on-line and face to face at events. This also highlighted for me the importance of privacy. As an educator, my Personal Reflections of an Educator shouldn’t be up for display for the entire world to see, because it stops me from being 100% authentic and honest with myself. Granted, my personal journal has parts that are published online for the world to see – but I choose what I share – just as everyone else should be able to choose.
3. Frame your goals positively. I found that as I was working with setting goals for myself – my goals would be written with a negative slant to them. I realised that it was important for myself – my mindset – for them to be positive. So once I’d worked that one out – I made the change. For example, instead of saying “de-clutter” which has the word clutter in the intention and clutter was certainly NOT what I wanted to achieve. So to shift my focus, align my intent, I started to reframe my thinking and began to use the word minimisation or simplify as the goal which for me is a much more positive goal and experience.
4. I’m accountable to myself for my own growth and learning. My growth as a person and a professional is on me. It’s my choice. I make choices every day, and I need to be in the mindset to make the best choice at the time. One step at a time. And it doesn't matter if it is a baby step or a big giant leap. Movement is what counts.
5. The journal gave me direction! It wasn’t just a blank book handed to me with the direction given: Go forth, and reflect. It had dedicated pages with graphics and intentions so that I knew I should note down the videos and podcasts that inspire me and help me to grow. Now a lot of these I noted down were business and personal rather than educator related – but this is MY journal and I can note down what I enjoy and what inspires me. In the front of the journal we have a reflection question menu so that you can refer to this when you need to reflect upon your teaching practices and philosophy.
6. Inspires creativity in me. It was open-ended enough that I had freedom to personalise it. I really made my book my own. And honestly, I love flipping through the year and seeing what I have done with it. Its almost like a giant vision board in the shape of a book! Because of the open-ended nature of the journal, it inspired me to be ever so creative. I wanted to do more than just write. I wanted to paint and doodle and collage and really get creative. I wanted my journal to be a creative and visual process, and I think it certainly was.
7. The journal illustrated my progress over a year. I can look back to last year when I first webbed out my goals for 2018 and I can see which ones I nailed and which ones I wasn’t able to tackle completely this year. You see how I was positive there? Because I have next year to tackle them!). This is a learning process for me. I'm developing my ability to be more goal focused and of course my first year isn't going to be 100% perfect. I now know I took on way too much. So for my next year's plans, I can make adjustments and implement different strategies and see how that impacts my successes. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
8. My journal is tangible. In a digital world, I’m a paper and pencil girl. I love the book. I love the scratch of a lead pencil over the surface of the paper. I love the glide of my favourite 1.4 ball point pens as they sail over the page. It’s battered and bruised. It’s been well and truly loved, used and abused (a coffee stain here and there ... a few squishes and drops) for a year and I can hold it in my hand and flip through it and hug it and sniff it and it’s all mine. MINE. But don't worry, I’ll share it with you.
9. It tells my story in a point in time. I can grab my journal and look back over 2018 and see my own personal story of the year. I can see the evolution of my ideas and wishes and dreams and I can see my successes and challenges and reality. In a nutshell, my journal is a part of me.
10. All the relationships and connections formed. This journal and the other ESRE publications have helped me to connect with amazing new people. We created a community. And I don't mean Sandi and I created a community - I mean WE with YOU included - created a community. With your enthusiasm and commitment and learning; with your innovating, connecting and outright bravery in sharing - YOU have have made us SHINE! We knew we were making these awesome publications, but we didn’t realise where it would take us. Our relationship with you makes us who and what we are. Without YOU, we are simply pages in a book.
So that is 10 of the things I got out of keeping my Personal Reflections of an Educator Journal …
I am going to take what I have learned and be a better human being and a better educator.
I hope you found my experience and words helpful in your own reflective journey.
Yours in Reflection,
Owner of Sticks & Stones Education
Founding Partner of Educator's Symposium & Resource Emporium