Lesson Diary, or, Stuff I Might Do Next Semester

diaryI used to keep a lesson diary. I might start doing it again.

I’ve been participating in the Castle Book Club discussion of Daniel T. Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School? – half-heartedly, I admit, for two reasons. First, my beloved cat died last week, and since then I’ve been doing everything with only half a heart. Secondly, much of the discussion in my group has centred around American education curriculum and policy – things I know little about – or educational technology – something I know little about and have little interest in.

However, when we were discussing Chapter One, I pointed out Willingham’s suggestion that teachers keep lesson diaries in which they chronicle the strengths and weaknesses of specific lesson plans. I did this when I started teaching, and I still have those diaries – sometimes they consisted of just a line or two of commentary, and sometimes the comments addressed student behavior more than lesson content, but they are still a useful reference all these years later.

Today I came across this article about the advantages of teacher journals, and started to think once again about how helpful keeping a lesson-by-lesson diary can be.

I’m considering keeping a lesson diary next semester as an offshoot to this blog. It would be accessible to anyone interested, and I might occasionally provide links when a lesson brought up a subject I wanted to address further.

I’m not sure, however, whether there’s an advantage to keeping this diary publicly, beyond my natural exhibitionism. It would mostly consist of lesson plans, commentary on their success, and notes on possible future adjustments.

Would such a lesson diary be of interest to anyone? Do you keep one? Do you keep it online? If so, can I see it?

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4 responses

  1. There are bits of my blog that are specifically about lessons (and are tagged as such). They rarely get comments, but I put them out there all the same — mostly for me to review. I know I enjoy reading other people’s lessons and their reflections; they inspire me. And I steal quite a few of them to adapt for my classroom.

    I think putting lessons and reflections up is a great idea; it keeps the work transparent. Half the non-teachers I know think I do nothing; half think that what I do is a complete mystery. The more of the process they understand the better it is for everyone.

    So, I vote yes. Maybe not every lesson. But yes!

    • OKP:
      The question of transparency is one that hadn’t occurred to me, but it’s an interesting point. And the reality that you rarely get comments on such posts is one reason I’d like to make the lesson diary an offshoot of the blog rather than an integral part of it. I could reference it in the blog when I had more to say about a lesson, but it would mostly be there for my own purposes, and for the interest of die-hards like you who really want to see the nitty-gritty of what others are doing! Thanks for your feedback.

  2. A section of my blog will also have thoughts on lessons taught. I am not sure at this point how I will be doing that, since it is a new adventure. In college I was really tired of the whole reflection aspect of teaching. 13 years later, I see the value and am glad I was taught how to do it. This is a year in which I am changing my lessons up a bit as well as adapting some new state guidelines. I agree with the other comment, I don’t really get comments on my lesson thoughts either. But it does help to write it down, to see what I am doing from a different perspective. Putting it out there, and becoming transparent is not an easy thing for me to do.
    I am excited to get started on it and see where it leads me. I teach the youngest in my school, the PreK students, but I have found I learn from all the teaching blogs I read. College, high school, and so forth, we all have a common goal.

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