Diaries and where I’ve gone wrong.

Diaries are great in theory, or so I thought. At different points in my life I have been encouraged to record my days, thoughts and inquiries in a diary format. This includes the reflective diary entries that I had to complete during my practicum. Of course, I completed these diaries with a less than enthusiastic vigor. If I am being honest, I could have invested more into these diaries, but I didn’t see the point. From my student perspective, diaries were a waste of time where I wrote whatever I thought the professor wanted to read.

Well, I have been writing diaries wrong, for multiple reasons. As Engin (2011) discussed in Research Diary: A Tool for Scaffolding, writing a diary can be instrumental in the research process. Diaries are not just for writing down personal experience, but they are also for: reflecting on your practice, scaffolding personal learning and development and an excellent way to explore thought process. Here was my first mistake, I wrote diary entries as a way to cross something off my to do list. They contained little information on my practices or my future goals and intentions.  Furthermore, diaries offer the author a platform to ask themselves questions and increase their ability to notice details in their practice. And there was my second mistake, I did not take reflective writing in my practicum seriously.  My third and final mistake was something I did not expect. I have never once revisited my diary entries to see how far I have come. This is vital to growing as an educator. How can I expect to improve my practice, if I don’t consistently reflect on what I have done, what I would like to do and most importantly the progress I have made as an educator?

I would like to propose an addition to the diary writing process. I think that it is important to tell others about your plans, as well as write them in a research diary. For me this would add a layer of accountability. Not only would I have the support and collaboration of colleagues, but I would also have someone checking in on my progress.  How I see this playing out, is a group of teachers asking each other about their day. Simple as that, what worked, what didn’t, what would you change. There are many times that I do not have a solution, but a quick conversation with another staff member produce many new ideas.

With this in mind, my blog has now officially become my platform to reflect on my practice, make new goals, examine my personal biases and question everything to develop a better understanding.

1 Comment

  1. garysoles

    I find your thoughts on diary writing insightful and agree with your assessment of them. I also used to believe diary writing was a waste of time. This was, however, at odds with my belief that a great teacher needs to reflect on their lessons. Diary writing provides an excellent avenue for reflection that I did not take seriously until reading Research Diary: A Tool for Scaffolding by Engin. Thank you for the interesting perspective and your proposals on how to make diary writing more effective.