Blog Post

TALECS: Teacher Journaling 101—A How-To for Beginners 

 

Lessons Learned from the TALECS Initiative: Part Three 

 

Picture of a journal with a pen


In our last post, we talked about why you might want to try a teacher journal as a kind of formative assessment. This time we’ll focus on how to get started.

Getting Started with Teacher Journaling
You may be wondering how you can add one more thing to your busy life? Here is how you can get started: 

  1. Choose your medium. Do you want an attractively bound paper journal because you think best when putting pen to paper? Or would you prefer a clipboard with a daily custom-made form you can fill out and keep in a binder? Or do you want to use a tablet or even your phone, with the advantage that you can voice-record your notes and take pictures of student work? Whatever feels most comfortable to you is the method you are most likely to stick with. 

  2. Start small. It may feel overwhelming to capture the thinking of every group of students working on a project in one class period. You can focus your first writing on a group you feel you know the least about. Writing about what you see and hear as you work can help you better understand them in the ways we describe above. Next, you can try visiting and journaling about two groups of students. You’ll find the number that is most comfortable for you, and then you can rotate over a week so you get to visit everyone.

  3. Start positive. Try to record information on the strengths students are showing, and how they are showing them. This is a way to address equity. Students with backgrounds different than yours may approach problems very differently than you would. It should be part of your process to see their strengths, as well as how to help them with weaknesses.  

What Teachers Say
Below are some of the insights teachers we worked with shared about teacher journaling: 

“I use reflection on a daily basis to help with my personal teaching improvement and to add validity to ideas.”

“I reflect on the strategies... to ensure students are learning the concepts of computer science.” 

“I use a journal called "Best Self," which helps me prioritize all my projects and daily to-dos. Part of the "daily process" is a reflection of my day—what went well and what could be improved. I plan to do a better job at reflecting on my school day, lesson reflection specifically.”

Try it Out!
We encourage you to try teacher journaling, and tell us about your experience in the comments section below. Or ask a question, and we’ll get back to you. 

 

Logos for TALECS, SRI Education, and CS for All Teachers

NOTE: SRI Education, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research and our CS for All Teachers community, implemented the TALECS virtual professional development (PD) project from 2017-19 with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under contract number CNS-1640237. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.