Reflective Writing

wendell dryden
Over on the Literacies 'Wisdom' page (link) they / we asked "How are we using our research skills on the fly? What happens?"

Here's one answer: My boss thinks I'm smarter than I am.

She asked me for some year-end highlights and good news stories for the Annual General Meeting. I had some stuff at hand [key point here - more in a moment] and quickly pulled together a six page report with text and images.

She was pleased and impressed, seeing my report as an example of "good ideas" and "a way to share". She decided to circulate copies to other staff - who now hate me with some cause. (Just kidding!)

Here's the thing: that "stuff at hand" was my blog postings.

wendell dryden

I've always written stuff down in a sort of daily journal. I started because I was wretched at imposed paperwork. I've always scrambled before each reporting period to complete monthly attendance forms, official workplans and so on. I'm just plain bad at filling in all those little boxes.

But, it's easy for me to create a daily narrative. So that's what I do. Only, now, I also blog some things as well.



When I blog about my work, I build up a record of ideas that worked and ideas that didn't work, of my own reflections and those of my learners. Because it's a blog, this rich information is already typed, digitally available in a searchable format, and often accompanied by appropriate images. This allows me to quickly draft up a thoughtful overview of the year, or - maybe - a paper for a journal like Literacies.

Of course, I record far more than I blog. It is inappropriate to share some things. When I do share, I still need to preserve the privacy and dignity of both my learners and my employers. I also need to reflect on the meaning or significance of what I'm writing, what I'm seeing - I need to draw some conclusions.

In any case, whether I blog or simply write notes to myself, this daily recording of thoughts and observations allows me to look back on and appraise my work. That's the other, more important answer to the question, "What happens?" I get to look back, think, maybe change my mind. Do better. That's valuable to me.


What you think and learn and do is valuable to me too.

If you don't journal, why not consider it? If you do, why not think about starting your own literacy blog? Think of how you could add to our nation's store of literacy wisdom and wonder by sharing even once a week.

Think about it.

Radiate.


4 comments:

ballet girl said...

This is all very nice Wendell, but I have found so many excellent literacy websites lately that I don't want any more!
I feel overwhelmed, as it is!

ballet girl said...

..."and quickly pulled together a six page report with text and images."

Haha! VERY impressive!

:-)

But I take your point about documentation.

I recently started doing a STUDENT MILESTONES Chart for each month, for display, after getting the idea from another (Canadian?) website - ...when I find the site, I'll come back here and give them appropriate credit).

Anyway, I recommend THAT approach too - it's very practical, day-to-day sort of stuff that ordinary people can identify with, as distinct from coded literacy achievement levels like 2.1 or whatever - that mean nothing to ordinary people.

Wendell said...

"...as distinct from coded literacy achievement levels like 2.1 or whatever - that mean nothing to ordinary people."

Yeah, including learners! I like the scale / numbers thing because it gives me a visual indication of progress toward a (maybe very) far off goal, but a list of acquired skills and accomplishments is much better. One of the reasons I try always to put learner writings up on the wall is (and liked our newsletter) is because of the value of people being able to see their own progress and ability.

ballet girl said...

Finally I found it!

It's http://dlcal.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/student-milestones/

- from Durham, North Carolina. Have a look. This MILESTONES idea is working great for me.