4.4 : Time and Organization
You are used to finding time for The Daily Ten, so you’re seeing the value of finding the time for reflective writing. In the interviews, you learned how two educators find the time for reflective writing. Here, I’ll elaborate a bit more. I don’t expect that every suggestion will work for you, so think of this more as an outline of ideas to try. You are the only one who can tweak ideas to create a system that really works for you!
Set an Alarm.
You may already be doing this for your daily ten, or perhaps you are like me, and the same time everyday just doesn’t work. I, personally, don’t expect to be able to sit down every day at 4:15 and write. But, if an alarm goes off at 4 pm, when I know my day is beginning to wind down, it will remind me to get a bit of writing in before logging off for the day.
Try setting an alarm or a calendar alert that goes off on the days that you are teaching, around when you think you may have time. As soon as possible after children leave is best! Start with one or two days per week, rather than expecting yourself to dive headfirst into a daily writing practice. That will come with time.
Make reflection a priority.
If you are exploring this topic as a staff, or you want to share these ideas with your colleagues, try to let each individual decide how it works for them, and how they might make it a priority. Your goal may be to add 10 minutes of reflective writing in for each educator, each day, but think about the other logistics, too: how long does it take to log on to the computer? Are the passwords accessible? Does the timing depend on a floater, or children's needs? Remember that it is easy to get behind with meetings and planning time, so plan ahead for the possible bumps in the road.
Just like with setting the alarm, be realistic. Start however you can, and start slow: you'll want more reflection time once you get the hang of it!
Organize it in the same place.
Reflections are made to be revisited and re-read; they can become drafts for more reflections, or for documentation. This is not possible if you don't know where your reflections are!
I recommend having a physical notebook or clipboard, and a digital space.
I use Evernote, which lets me create notes that can include text, photos, audio, and video. I can do this on my computer, tablet, or phone.
In Evernote, I have a notebook labeled with the month, and when I write a new note, I write the date as the note title. I can press the audio record button to just talk through some ideas as I clean up at the end of the school day, or on my drive home. I also use tags on my reflective notes to make it easy to search for the topics, ideas, or children I was thinking about later on. I can pull in photographs or videos, link to google docs that I am working on with colleagues, and add links to relevant web content.
I do reflect with pen and paper, but I often take a snapshot of the page and add it to my reflective Evernote notebook.
Revisiting the same space is especially supportive for reflection informing documentation: I find that the documentation finds its shape in those notes, becoming clearer as I add photos, videos, and audio of experiences in the classroom.