The Little Journal with A Big Dream

“Is this nagging sense of overwhelm what it means to be a teacher?”

“This job is SO demanding and SO important. Can anyone really ever find work life balance?”

“I have so much to do just to plan for tomorrow, how can I ever make time for wellbeing?” 

 These were my thoughts years ago! Talking myself out of making time for taking care of myself. Again. Then I discovered the magic of having a few simple tools to use to renew my spirit daily…and I found a few that worked for me!

I was excited to see if they could help other teachers. So I spent an entire school year studying 26 new teachers to see if two simple wellbeing practices (gratitude and meditation) had any impact on their wellbeing in the workplace.

 I randomly divided the teachers into two groups. Both groups were asked to write down three things that occurred during the week, twice a week (and/or discuss these things with their instructional coach) but only for 3 months (November, December, and January).

 The one difference was one of the groups, The Gratitude Group, was asked to write down WHAT WENT WELL.

It was quick and super simple:

  • What went well?

  • Why did it go well?

  • Why is it important for your students?

This group also received a very simple 1-hour training in how to use mindfulness themselves and with their students.

 

The other group of teachers could write (and/or discuss) anything (positive, negative, or neutral).

 

Both groups were surveyed about their happiness throughout the year. Month after month, I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the results pouring in.

 

When asked how happy they were, the Gratitude Group more frequently stated they were happy at work then the other group. Even months after they stopped journaling! As the other group’s reports of happiness at work declined, the Gratitude Group stayed steady.  All. Year. Long. The Gratitude Group also more frequently reported:

  • better relationships at work

  • high engagement in their jobs

  • a strong sense of purpose and achievement.

 

And this makes sense! When we pause to give some weight to what is working in our practice, we feel good about our practice.

 

These results might not be the same for everyone. The best a study can do is say what happened for some of the people some of the time (and I don’t think a gratitude journal should be used as a substitute for mental health or medical care).

 

Gratitude is a simple (and free) reflection tool that supports you thinking about your work in positive ways:

  • Reflecting on what is going right helps us see the strengths our practice is built on.

  • Reflecting on why good things are happening helps us acknowledge our internal and external resources lifting us up daily.

  • And finally reflecting on why these good things are important for students helps us stay connected to the meaning in our work….helping every all students succeed everyday.

 

Education needs that special light only you can shine. Don’t let it burn out. Building in a few teacher renewal practice has helped me keep burnout at bay…and I am no longer counting down the days to the weekend or waiting for summer to recharge. I’m thriving daily in this amazing profession I love.

The point of using gratitude for reflection isn’t to ignore everything that is going wrong. I don’t use it for avoidance. I use it to celebrate and acknowledge the good stuff so I have the energy and resilience to take on the challenges.  

 

To try the same journal I use with the Gratitude Group in my study, sign up below.

I designed this 7-day journal just for educators and even tested it on new teachers It uses the research-based journal format described in this blog post but I’ve adapted the journal a little for teachers. To download it, simply join our mailing list below for instant access. 

 

If gratitude journaling works for you, you might like this 180 days of Gratitude Journal I made as well. Click the picture below check it out.