Going digital?

Having been inspired by digital ways to Bullet Journal, I have decided to explore some ways this could be used for teachers.

All of my teachers have free access to Office365 and I am interested to see if this could be used for effective planning journals for my staff.

The app I plan to use is OneNote. It’s free to use, it links to Office365 and as all my staff have iPads, they can also use it on these for quick and easy access. Furthermore, OneNote notebooks can be shared and edited by others which provides potential for collaboration, Notebooks can access OneDrive documents for linking (no more cutting and pasting from one document into another) and also you can add web links and photographs – tools that have the potential for making planning more productive and evaluative.

Having reviewed some digital bullet journal approaches, many seem to be using it as a written notebook but on a digital screen using a stylus. On the surface, this doesn’t appear more productive than using a pen and paper version. Similarly, the paper version doesn’t need charging or have the potential to run out of battery power! I don’t intend for this to be the case with the journaling for teachers digital approach and don’t intend it to simply be swapping paper for digital screen. I am more interested in it’s potential for collaboration, linking to documents and photographs as this is where the key lies in it being a more productive tool.

I have set up an August Digital Bullet Journal to experiment with next month. I have kept the main principles of bullet journaling but accept that there will be adaptations to consider. I still intend to keep my pen and paper journal – there is still something to be said for the creative and therapeutic satisfaction analogue recording offers and I don’t want to lose that.

I am more interested in how I can make the digital approach an effective tool for teachers to use and to assess its advantages and disadvantages.

I will keep you posted on how it goes over the next month!


Journaling, lesson planning and managing workload for teachers

So for the last term my senior leaders in school have been trialling bullet journaling for their lesson planning.

I shared the principle of the bullet journaling with them a few months ago. For a long while I knew the bullet journal approach had potential as a planning tool for teachers. I really wanted to make teachers time proportionate to the lesson planning they do – not burdensome. I also wanted to free up their planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time to include all three elements and not just be focused on planning, which is what most, if not all, of PPA time was used for. The key questions for me were – Who is planning for? What are the most important elements? How can we make this most effective?

We agreed a few non-negotiables. A weekly overview was completed planning out the week ahead. For each lesson, their journal had to contain the lesson objective, the success criteria – which would also act as a differentiation tool – and an evaluation. The evaluation was key as it was the ability to reflect and plan the next step in learning that was absolutely central to effective lesson planning. This is often the most neglected part of planning at our school. Alongside that, they highlighted and dated their skills overviews when they were taught and delivered to compliment the dates in the journal. This in turn also linked to pupils work in books.

We agreed that they could choose whatever planning book they wanted to use – I shared the different books I had used over the past few years – lined, squared and dotted. We also agreed that as long as the non-negotiables were featured in the journal, the layout and organisation of these features were up to each teacher. It was important that the teacher had ownership of it. I encouraged them to research ideas and create the layout that most worked best for them.

After a term where I allowed the team the freedom to work on their planning journals, we reflected on these earlier this week. The feedback from the team was really positive. They all agreed that planning was less complicated and time-consuming. One teacher said that the process of creating and completing the journal each day was therapeutic and enjoyable and Sundays were transformed. One teacher said they hadn’t done so much planning in their life as they used to find ways to avoid the burdensome planning processes when they worked at their previous school but actually wanted to plan using the journal approach. One teacher adapted the approach by creating a quick overview timetable for working with teaching assistants so that they knew what they were working on that week.

We are now planning to share this with the next group of teachers in our school ready for Autumn term… watch this space!

Work and rest…there’s virtue in both…overlook neither…

So it’s been quite a while since my last post. It’s been a very busy time at work but fortunately I’ve had my bullet journal to keep me in check! It’s that wonderful time of year (halfterm!) where it’s time to stop, rest and reflect.

It’s also time to set up a new journal… so here’s my set-up for June.

I like using a title page to separate the start of a new month… this one has been inspired by Christina77Star.

I’ve also tried out a new style for my monthly overview… again inspired by Christina77Star – it was a little time-consuming to set up but I enjoyed the time spent doing it – sometimes it’s nice to switch off and devote time to things that are enjoyable!

Next I have added my usual habit tracker to try and keep healthy and balanced. Reflecting on this each month is key as it reminds me to keep things in check especially when I am marking off a cross to show it’s not been done…

One of my other important self-care pages is my gratitude/memories log – I love looking over this at the end of each month. It’s a lovely reminder of all the wonderful things that can sometimes be overlooked when you are caught up in the day to day stresses of the job.

This month I am going to try a new approach to my ‘things to do’ list. I have split it into weeks so that I can spread the list out and also break it down into smaller steps. I’ll keep you updated on how it works.

Finally, I am going to try out two-page spreads for my weekly overview. My weekly page has been getting quite busy as there is so much to do so hopefully this will be less cluttered and easier to add to. I’ve kept the setup simple so it’s not too time-consuming to complete each Sunday night.

So… happy June journaling!

Spring into March!

Setting up my journal for a new month is one of my favourite things to do… it’s a chance to reflect, refine and renew. This month I have decided to focus on a title page to introduce the new month…

Following this I have my monthly overview.

Things to track this month are running, 10,000 steps and walking!

I’ve decided to add a quotes page for March – quotes really inspire me so I’m looking forward to making a collection over this month…

Next is my memories and gratitude log… this is one of my favourite pages to read over at the end of each month.

Finally I’ve added a ‘To Do’ page to note all those tasks I want to focus on this month. I’ll use this list to feed into my daily log.

So that’s March all set up and ready for a month of bullet journaling!

The secret of your success is found in your daily routine…

Sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need.

I often find school holidays are a blessing in disguise in that they offer that much needed rest and recuperation time. However, suddenly moving from the routine of the working school week (despite how varied each day can be) to a routine of nothing can be a bit of a shock to the system. This is where I find my bullet journal of utmost importance. Spending time planning out my much needed break ensures I schedule in rest time and time to catch up on daily life. This week my journal has been invaluable to me in scheduling routines. I find creating a daily timeline helps to structure my day and block out time for tasks. It also helps me to reflect on keeping a balance.

This is also something I do daily when in school – this daily planning routine and timeline is great to ensure you keep your day balanced! A good habit as we prepare to return to school after the break.

Year in review…time to reflect…

Inspired by monthly reviews on Pinterest, and as it is the last page of my current bullet journal, I have decided to create a reflection page to think about the year that has just passed before my new journal begins tomorrow.

We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.

The last day of the year is a natural and serendipitous time to stop and reflect. I hope this inspires you to take time for yourself to stop, breathe, think and reflect as you get ready to move into the new year.

Happy new year!

Tomorrow is the first page of a 365 page book – write a good one!

Tomorrow is the first page of a 365 page book – write a good one! – Brad Paisley

So after spending some time getting inspired and rethinking my priorities I have prepared my bullet journal for 2018! Exciting!

I have decided to try out the dotted notebook. Having been a fan of the squared notebook for quite a while, I was keen to try this out and see how easy it was to create spreads… and I have to say it was pretty easy! It gives you more opportunity to be more creative and I am really pleased with the results!

So after spending lots of time browsing on Pinterest I decided to add a Goals Page to my journal to keep me focused on things I would like to achieve this year.

To follow this I have included a future log. Underneath I have left space to jot down key dates in each month.

To help me remember my numerous family birthdays I have also included a birthdays page too.

Two things I would like to track and to also help me ensure I find time to relax are movies and books, so I’ve included a collections page to note these down.

Two other pages I have decided to include are a useful numbers page (as I realised I just don’t know these anymore and if I lost my phone I would be lost!) and a cleaning schedule to help me manage my work life balance.

I am also going to track my weight too and ensure I eat healthy and regularly as I can often skip lunch due to my job… really not good for self-care!

And now for January… I have included a title page for the month as well as a monthly log.

To further ensure my focus on wellbeing I have included a sleep log tracker and exercise tracker too.

I have also included a page for memories/gratitude as I love to look over this and reflect when I review each month.

Finally I have updated my weekly log to include meals too so that I can ensure I am looking after myself. I have also decided to include a weekly to do list so that I don’t overload myself each week and keep things more realistic. I found that keeping a master list with my monthly log was not used that often so I am going to try this out and see how it goes.

So… take some time, get inspired, try out some ideas and reflect on your priorities and start that 365 page book!

Make it a good one!

‘We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience’

We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.

This is a quote from John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist and education reformer, and it couldn’t be more apt particularly as we approach a new year. It is a time for reflecting as we prepare for the new year and the hope and excitement it brings.

The past is your lesson, the present your gift and the future your motivation.

I have spent the last few days reflecting on my bullet journal, and how it has helped me over this past year. I am building up quite a collection of bullet journals now and it has been lovely to peruse these and see how much has evolved and changed. Taking time to review my bullet journals has helped to remind me of what is important, and how it helped me at that particular time.

The thing that stood out starkly to me reflecting on my journals over the last Autumn term was how much I had allowed my self-care to lapse. Habit trackers were left unchecked as they hadn’t been completed, my gratitude log missing some days as through exhaustion I had forgotten to complete it, and my evening journal routine had been sacrificed and time taken to reflect left undone. As a result, feelings of significant stress have taken over and this Christmas break it has taken me a long time to ‘switch off’. This is where reflecting has been important. It has reminded me of what I must prioritise and what I need to change to enable that. As a result I have bought a new bullet journal (one of those serendipitous moments where my current journal is completed at the end of the month, and as a result the end of the year too!). I have spent time thinking carefully about what to include in my journal which reflects my priorities. I have tried out different layouts and spent time on Pinterest collecting inspiration and ideas. It has been a truly lovely experience and allowed me to reconnect with my creativity too.

The past has definitely been a lesson in reminding me of what is important in journaling.

The present has definitely been a gift taking time to explore and rediscover creativity.

The future is definitely my motivation as I am looking forward to starting and completing this journal and I am looking forward to sharing my new bullet journal set up with you!

…Time flies when you’re having fun!?

Well the last few months have been a whirlwind and continue to be. Education is a high-pressured environment and this has really been in evidence this term. As we near the end of term and the end of the year, it seems an appropriate time to reflect this month.

I have gone back to basics with my bullet journal over this term. It has been such a busy time that a no-nonsense and no-fuss approach has been essential. One thing that is definitely clear is that it has continued to help me keep track of everything related to work – diaries, notes, things to do… However, this is not the case for my habit tracker, which has highlighted to me that my ‘work-life’ balance is not currently balanced and I have not been able to tick off my habit tracker as much as I would like. This is definitely something to work on. I have noticed my stress levels increasing by not keeping as active and healthy.

I have simplified my approach further to save time in creating each monthly set-up. One of the enjoyable elements of keeping a bullet journal is setting up each month, weekly and daily spread and I need to refocus on this again and ensure I find that balance.

So this term, whilst my bullet journal has helped me keep sane by helping to keep my head clear of all the stresses and strains of my work, it has also highlighted to me the importance of wellbeing and what impact my work has had on this in recent months. My resolve is to readdress this before the start of the next term and I will look for ways my bullet journal can help me to do this over this month.

Back to the Future (log!)

I am busy setting up my bullet journal ready for September and have been experimenting with ideas to adapt the future log as, for me, this is the most underused part; mainly because I use my calendar on my iPhone, we also have a shared digital school calendar and the future log, in its truest sense, doesn’t hold enough information for me. However, I also find it useful to see an overview of a month and digital calendars don’t do this well. So, in my new September journal, I have tried the following set-up; a page divided in two with the monthly calendar tab at the top and then space for notes on each day underneath. I have marked the weekends so I have an overview rather than putting the day initial next to each date to maximise space. I will keep you posted on how it goes…