Reflective Journals

Each class will have a reflective journal. Teachers will select examples from what children have written and collect them to record a variety and range of children’s comments on sessions.

These will be able to give us a visual record of the journey the class has gone on. It also allows for short ‘hashtag’ style comments to be made by the children. By using a range of feedback opportunities, children can record their feelings alongside what they have learnt or hope to learn or do differently in each session. Teachers have selected three specific children to monitor over the course of the project. These will remain their focus and give purpose and direction for part of their own personal reflective journals. These children will have been specifically chosen by the class teacher. Their reasons for each child will vary but may include: socially or emotionally disadvantaged, academically low-achievers, low confidence, self-worth is poor or a child who struggles with something new or taking instruction from others. Each of these children will be specifically watched, especially over the first six weeks of the project. Will there be significant change? Will these children emerge more confident across areas of their school life? Will we be able to sustain such change? Will this affect their academic well being too?

Watch this space for examples of reflective journals from across the project. We have our first meeting with school facilitators and Headteachers coming up next week and this will be a brilliant opportunity to learn from and with each other. They will bring their colleagues’ class journals for us to look at.

Teachers have been given a range of templates to use with the children, Blob Tree  (Blobs are characters where by children can identify themselves – and show how they feel). It is hoped that teachers will develop other ways for the children to communicate and express their thoughts about each session.

Encouragement is key to supporting positively. Where re-direction is needed, it is more likely to be accepted where a relationship of trust has been built.

Teacher Reflections: It is important to keep at the forefront of our mind the purpose for the project. This is about teacher development. How will keeping  a personal journal and reflecting develop me as a teacher? What changes do I want to see in myself? Will my confidence to deliver lessons through the arts grow? How do I feel about team teaching? Is this something I will use or do again when the project is over?

Our own reflections will not only be challenged by asking ourselves direct questions, but also through the guidance and specifics that will be addressed by our project evaluation team. This will keep our focus tight and address misconceptions which could lead us into a more vague outcome for the project as a whole.

Planning opportunities to meet with each other is really important. Keeping conversations open, phone calls, face to face, emailing, social networking – all important chances for us to reflect and learn together.

Above all, I believe a reflective journal should be honest. Admit your fears and concerns. Let the reflection be true. Don’t paint a picture of something you think others may want to see. This is an intentional piece of work. Approach it with a sense of purpose and anticipation that good things will come from it. In fact it is likely that the unexpected will happen when we least expect it. Keeping a record of this journey is essential to seeing that change. It doesn’t have to be a grand piece of writing, these can be notes, bullet points, drawings, a sentence or two which succinctly express how you feel about what is happening, and where you want to see change. Whilst being personal, they are also to be shared so we can learn from each other – be courageous in finding the balance to write with purpose and emotion.