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?

What’s to Like about School?

Did you like school? (Or, if you’re a student now, do you?)

I’m reading Daniel T. Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School? It’s totally readable and very interesting, and I’ll post a review when I’m done. (I’ve also joined a reading group to discuss it, over at Dangerously Irrelevant; if you’ve been wanting to pick this book up, a book club might give you the kick in the pants you need.)

When I posted the title of the book on my Facebook page, one of my Facebook acquaintances replied directly to the author’s question, writing,

“Same reason we hate boring movies … no engaging, nothing to relate with. For starters …”

Now, Willingham’s responses are quite a bit more subtle. He’s a cognitive scientist, and his explanations of why we like to think but find it difficult are intriguing. But my acquaintance’s response got me thinking.

When it came to school, I WAS engaged. I DID relate to the material, whether it was geometric proofs or chemical reactions or novels. But I didn’t like gym, because I’d didn’t like running around, and I had trouble in a few academic areas – history seemed like a dry list of facts about politics, and the ultimate goal of studying physics seemed to be understanding how a carburator works. (I’m now well aware that neither of these things is true, but school was capable of reducing them to that.)

Did you like school? How about the classroom, specifically – if you liked learning in school, why? If you didn’t, why not, and what could have made it more enjoyable? What about your children – how do they feel about it? Have they told you why, or do you have an inkling?