Reflective Writing in the Classroom and in Life

Last summer I participated in the Middle Tennessee Writing Project. Every day for two weeks, we started and ended our day with writing -- often reflective prompts that got our minds working and creative juices flowing, writing that informed our designated "writing time" later in the day, writing that was just let us respond. While the entire experience was transformative to me as a teacher and a writer, the "Write into the Day" was a huge thing that I took into my daily teaching and has become part of my pedagogy.  I wanted to have a time for my students to write about things -- not necessarily on topics related to our class or the work ahead of us, but to write about things on their hearts and minds, in their bullet journals, in a quiet space. As part of the MTWP practice, I always inform my students if we may share some of this writing, or some of the ideas -- the germs of inspiration or insight that get transferred onto the page-- and it's in some of these early morning conversations that I feel the most renewed as a teacher. 

Largely, these prompts are reflective writing.  They are designed to get the writer contemplating their lives on a larger scale, but to also do a bit of a self-check. That's part of my own pedagogical purpose, I confess, for I feel that we often don't get a chance to do such writing and that it's a real downfall. Not only do we not do that kind of writing, we avoid that kind of thinking in life. We don't ask ourselves how we are doing, how we are managing, how we can do better. We don't take inventory of the very stuff our our souls, and that, to me, is problematic. I want to create a space for that kind of thinking -- even in a research and argumentative writing classroom, or a Literacy for Life classroom, or any classroom, really, because better humans make better students. 

I thought I may share some of these prompts with you. I put them up with a soundtrack for the first five minutes of the day. Sometimes, people get all their writing done. Sometimes, they are still furiously scribbling when their five minutes are up. I invite conversation about some topics, asking what they think or how it ties into their regular, ordinary, everyday lives.  Sometimes we close the prompt and move onto the business of the day. In the end, I feel it's one of the most valuable treasure troves their bullet journals hold for them: a place where they have reflected-- truly and deeply, if only for a few minutes.

These are just a few of the prompts, but you get the idea of what my approach is. So, my challenge to you is -- how are you being reflective in your life? How much reflective writing are you doing? Are you taking some time out to think about what you are doing well, what you are struggling with, or just something that you would like to celebrate? And if you aren't-- well-- why not?