A Teacher’s Reflective Impact Journal: Pursuing Greatness Every Day

By Mary Smith | Pete Hall | Alisa Simeral

Self-reflection is one of the most powerful habits a teacher can develop. McREL is pleased to bring you the perfect companion to your reflective journey: a guided journal to help you chronicle which classroom practices are going great, which could stand some improvement, and how you’re growing and changing along the way.

Reflective cycle

Underpinning the journal is the Reflective Cycle—a concept Pete and Alisa (along with Bryan Goodwin, Bj Stone, and Bess Scott) also explored in Pursuing Greatness: Empowering Teachers to Take Charge of Their Professional Growth.

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Be your own best coach and mentor

Develop reflective habits to help you focus on your goals, improve what needs improving, and celebrate what you’ve gotten right.

Have you ever written in a journal or diary before? This is pretty much the same, except it’s focused on your work as a professional educator. The Journal gives you weekly open-ended writing prompts crafted to help you develop new habits of thinking. In repeated succession, you’ll progress through these themes:

  • WOW weeks: Something went well in your teaching this week (it did!). Let’s celebrate it, and then think about why it’s important to you and how you can replicate it.
  • YIKES weeks: Mistakes happen. Turn one into a powerful learning opportunity and plan for a positive outcome next time.
  • GOAL weeks: Identify a particular outcome you want to achieve—and how you’re going to achieve it.
  • QUESTION weeks: What do you need to know about your students, your professional responsibilities, or education in general?
  • TACKLE A FEAR WEEK: Is something holding you back? Confront it and watch your capacity for success increase.

After everything you’ve invested in your career, A Teacher’s Reflective Impact Journal might be the best value you’ve ever found: Just $14.95 for a year-long peer coach you can carry with you everywhere!

PRINCIPALS AND DISTRICT LEADERS: Give your entire teaching team the gift of self-reflection and journaling. Bulk discounts are available with purchase orders for 10 or more copies:

  • 10% off orders of 1-49 journals
  • 15% off orders of 50-99 journals
  • 20% off orders of 100 or more

Send your purchase orders to store@mcrel.org

About the Authors

Mary Smith

Mary Smith is a former teacher and curriculum specialist who speaks, coaches, writes, podcasts, and wonders about ways that we can amplify our role as educators.

Pete Hall

Pete Hall is a former teacher and school principal who now writes, provides professional development for educators, and dabbles in motivational speaking.

Alisa Simeral

Alisa is a former teacher and instructional coach who travels the globe supporting educators at all levels to become the light that all of our students need.

Resources & Services

Videos

How journaling supports educator reflection and growth

Pete Hall, co-author of A Teacher’s Reflective Impact Journal shares seven key ways that journaling can help educators self-reflect on their professional practices and have a bigger impact on student outcomes.

Weekly themes to help your self-reflective journaling

Co-author Pete Hall talks about the weekly themes in the Reflective Impact Journal that help educators think and write about what’s working in their classrooms, what’s not, and what they’d like to change.

Can journaling still help if I’m teaching online?

Mary Smith, co-author of A Teacher’s Reflective Impact Journal shares why journaling about our online teaching experiences can help us bring clarity to this challenging situation and find successful strategies faster.

How journaling can help PLCs and teacher teams

While many teachers will use the Reflective Impact Journal by themselves to improve their own individual practices, co-author Mary Smith describes how PLCs and teacher teams can use the journal together to collaborate, share, and learn with peers.

Additional Resources & Services

Unleashing Curiosity Quick Guide Series

Our Unleashing Curiosity guides are part of McREL’s Curiosity Works® resources. Based in part on a successful system-wide effort in Melbourne, Australia, that improved student achievement by unleashing student curiosity, these resources give teachers and school leaders tips, suggestions, and ideas to encourage professional dialogue with other teachers and increase student curiosity. Combining these insights with McREL’s analysis of best education practices from around the world, our Curiosity Works resources support a better way of transforming schools—not through top-down pressure, but through helping teachers and school leaders work together to develop shared professional expertise and leverage the power of motivation and curiosity.

The six key practices in the series are:​

  • Creating challenging learning tasks
  • Providing feedback that motivates
  • Helping students commit to mastery
  • Encouraging dynamic cooperation
  • Framing quality questions
  • Committing to assessment for learning

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Classroom Instruction That Works®

Improving instruction for better student learning is about science, not guesswork. McREL’s research and analysis of hundreds of instructional strategies used in thousands of classrooms and, most importantly, their impact on student achievement, reveals which ones work best. Together, these nine best categories of instructional strategies form the heart of McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW) books, resources, and professional learning services for teachers, instructional coaches, and school leaders worldwide. CITW gives educators a clear, consistent approach to instruction, providing recommendations and tools for developing stronger lesson plans, effective classroom delivery, and a common vocabulary for teaching and sharing of best practices across schools and districts. In addition, we help teachers use the nine strategies most effectively within a three-part instructional planning guide designed to: create the environment for learning; help students develop understanding; and help students extend and apply knowledge.

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elementary classroom

Instructional Coaching

Use effective instructional coaching practices to create a unified, collegial, and supportive environment for teachers to collaboratively learn with, and from, each other. McREL can help your school or district create effective teacher teams that use peer observations and feedback to address specific instructional goals and spark innovative practices to improve overall instructional practice and support better classroom learning and management.

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WATCH THE WEBINAR