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Avoid Burnout Tip – Journaling for Perspective

April 5, 2010

I think one of the things we educators have the most difficulty with is slowing down. We have so much ‘stuff’ coming at us all of the time. Whether you are working with whole classrooms of students, or with individuals one at a time, you have a lot to deal with. Paying attention to the needs of your learners, trying out different instructional strategies, choosing learning materials or curricula – keeping yourself fresh. If you are working in a formal educational setting, you attend meetings, and committments result from that.

I’m getting edgy just thinking about all of it.

One thing you can do to slow it all down, is to step back from it all, and look at it from the outside. Journaling is an excellent tool for doing just that.

Try this – find yourself a good notebook. Some bookstores sell good heavy-duty notebooks with famous works of art on them. If you aren’t near a place where you can find a good notebook, buy a regular spiral notebook or composition notebook, and get some stickers to decorate it with. Do somehting to make it yours.

Now comes the tough part for those of us who are busy people. Make a regular time every single day when you will write in your journal. You can write anything you like. Don’t write it for anyone but yourself. When I first began journaling, I kept thinking someone was probably going to look at it one day, and as a result, I kept it pretty milktoast. It was an incredibly dull documentation of my family’s milestones. My personal opinions and emotions were pretty much kept out of it.

Later, after a divorce, a counselor encouraged me to start keeping a journal. I was to write daily, and to additionally write down the contents of my dreams, which meant I needed to write when I first awoke in the morning. It was amazing what came out of that. No longer worried that anyone was going to read my journal but me, and my views on the world began coming out in the form of poetry. I’ve been writing poetry ever since. I have three or four journals going at a time now. One is a wellness journal, one is for poetry, one is a record of the books I have read, and one is a professional journal. Every time I open up a new facet to my life, I start a journal.

I’m not saying you need to have a whole bunch of journals. Just begin with one. It’s ok to keep an electronic journal that you don’t share with everyone, but I strongly suggest you have a notebook style journal as well, one that you can take anywhere, and that you can physically write or sketch in. There is something theraputic about that process that you don’t get with online journaling.

Below are some interesting and varied books for you to check out related to journaling. I suspect you will find all kinds of resources on the topic if you want.

In A Place Called Sanctuary ~ Writings From A Healing Garden

By Edna Kovacs, PhD   (She also offers a workshop on journaling. Of course, being the educator you are, you will also notice her books on multicultural and multiple intelligences in the teaching of writing.)

Julia Cameron has put out a book called The Artist’s Way, which is essentially a book about using journaling in order to recover or develop one’s creativity. She also has a workbook, and structured journal if you really really like the approach.

Either of those should get you started. Or you might find another guide. Or you might decide you don’t need a guide at all. At the very least, find yourself a good notebook, a special pen, and set aside a little time every single day.

I do most of my writing in the evening before I go to sleep. -Fran

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