In the book The Artists Way author Julia Cameron writes about a practice called “Morning Pages”. The practice is performed in the morning and involves writing in long hand, three pages of whatever comes to mind. Morning pages are not a creative process but a process to clear the mind so the writer is ready to perform creative work and live more present in the work of the day.
In early childhood education teachers often experience busy multitasking days. Our days are filled with joy and challenges in the care of others. In our practice exists a delicate balance between solving problems effectively and promoting our self-care. Part of the process of working with children is observation and documentation. The process involves removing oneself from the moment-to-moment action in the classroom and recording what happens as the children work and play. Documentation is written and commonly recorded utilizing media like photos and video. The collection of information is examined later and used to inform the practice of the educator or the direction of the children's learning journey.
How do early childhood educators document our work in the classroom and utilize the information as a tool for improvement?
Writing daily pages is a tool educators can utilize for reflective practice. The definition of reflective practice states, “A process by which you stop and think about your practice consciously, analyze your decision making and draw on theory and relate it what you do in practice”. The practice of daily pages will assist the educator in reflecting on the events of the day and open up a new window into what is actually happening in the classroom. Additional benefits include; illuminating your thoughts and feelings, learning more about who you are, reducing stress, problem solve more efficiently and effectively, build emotional intelligence and mindfulness.
How does the process work? The exact method follows the individual educator. The goal is to write a one to three page recap (in cursive) each day about the current observations in the classroom. Some educators will write when the last child departs for the day since the information remains fresh in the mind. Some educators write pages in the morning the following day before the work ahead. Finally some educators will choose to record events during the workday creating a new page several times a day. The method is not as important as recording the information on the page and out of your mind.
The final step involves claiming a few uninterrupted minutes to read over the written pages and soak in the words and feelings about the experiences of the day. Next, the finished pages are recycled or shredded, as the words exist only as a tool for the individual educator to assist in their personal growth. When reading over the pages there may be some new insight about the events of the day or the words may induce little meaning at all.
Proceeding through the entire process from writing to reading to shredding will assist the educator to become better informed and more insightful. Writing a daily page will aid educators to discover answers, encounter events in a different light, clear your mind and inform your practice.
What method do you use to reflect on your daily practice?