How to Keep an Effective Teacher Journal

The Journal Notebook Format:
In order to facilitate accurate journal entries and ease of analysis:
  • We provide teachers with notebooks of more than 40 pages and a wide margin on each page to be used to record changes, additions, or references at a later date.
  • On the inside cover page we include a set of instructions on how to complete the journal. There, we also emphasize the importance of documenting events soon after they happen.
  • Page 2 of the notebook features an example of a correctly completed journal.
  • Page 3 features a short checklist of items, events or behaviors to help the journal writer remember what to write about and how (see “Recording Observations” and “Recording Reflections”). Here, teachers also asked if anything during the journal keeping period was atypical in anyway compared to the usual daily work routine.
  • Students written work, such as excerpts from homework or schoolwork, such as essays, exercises, tests etc. may be included in the journal.
  • Teachers writings such as worksheets, lists, plans, comments on students writing, assessments, etc. maybe included in the journal.
Instruction for Teachers
To facilitate teachers becoming successful journal writers, we gave participating teachers the following instructions:
  • Please know writing a journal is a personal matter. Over time, every journal writer develops his or her own personal style.
  • Please write on a regular basis. It is helpful to develop a routine, for example, write after each meeting with a “difficult” class or write at the end of every school week, for example, every Friday evening. Regular journaling has been found to increase quality and speed of one’s writing (Altrichter, Posch & Somech 2005, p. 14).
  • Schedule journaling into your timetable. This will help you to keep journaling a priority, thereby preventing it from being forgotten due to daily necessities.
  • Sometimes you might be facing writer’s block or feel reluctance to writing. Please know that sometimes it is necessary to go through a difficult period before journaling becomes enjoyable and gratifying. If you are experiencing any of the above please contact your teacher educator.
  • Please don’t censor yourself or your writing. By censoring yourself you might interfere with the free flow of thoughts. There is always time to edit your writing or the journal later. Because your journal is kept private please feel free to disregard considerations of grammar, writing style etc. while journaling.
  • Please understand the private nature of journaling. You are in no way obliged to share your entries. Please don’t react to perceived social pressure to share your journal. Just because somebody else shares their journal entries with the group, doesn’t mean you have to, if that makes you feel uncomfortable. 
  • Cited References

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