Should You Keep a Diary?

Should You Keep a Diary?

It wasn’t until after I boarded the 747 bound for South Korea in the fall of 2003 that I had ever considered keeping a diary.  In fact, to be fair, it wasn’t my idea at all. In the airport moments, before we said our goodbyes, a family friend placed a little-wrapped box into my carryon.

As the plane leveled off on some westward heading I unwrapped the parcel that contained a beautiful leather-bound journal.

Thus began my first experience with ‘journaling’. During the following months on the ground in Korea, I’d keep the little leather book with me, making notes of unusual things (everything was unusual), mindful at the time that a completed journal about life in Korea would have some nostalgic value to my future self, if not to a son or daughter. Never did it occur to me that a journal could serve as a repository of ‘data’ – that journal entries themselves could be analyzed to reveal hidden truths and trends, much like numerical data could lay bare statistical ones.

My first teaching year in Korea yielded three full journals. My second produced one, and as subsequent years passed, my commitment to journaling continued to ebb. I suppose the growing infrequency of my entries had to do with my feeling that novelty was also on the decline. By my seventh year I wasn’t writing at all but I had amassed 10,000 hours of classroom teaching experience, a mark considered by some to indicate mastery. I had experienced virtually every possible EFL situation in virtually every part of Korea. I don’t mean to suggest that I was becoming complacent; just the opposite. By the fall of 2010 I had joined the faculty of a prestigious university, and was making progress professionally, academically, and personally. I had just always believed that a diary was a place to capture newness, not record regularity.

But I was wrong about that. Just because your teaching life takes on a sense of routine does not mean that you have nothing to learn from the uniformity of its arrangement. Your teaching style provides you with a means of coping with many predictable demands of teaching, but there is also a danger that an unchecked configuration of teaching strategies can hinder your professional growth. Indeed, there is perhaps no better time to engage in a focused reflective journaling enterprise than when you are going about the daily business of teaching. When it is critically ascertained, a diary can serve as a tool for understanding assumptions and beliefs, and shed light on the complexities of relationships that exist between materials and methods and how these combine to inform and affect student learning.


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4 Replies to “Should You Keep a Diary?”

  1. Before buying a new diary in the New Year, I always promise myself “I will keep a diary!” However, I rarely write some words on my diary. I regret why I usually don’t keep a diary at the end of the year. I want to keep a diary regularly. I think I should try to make habit of keeping diary hard. If I do that, I easily remember what happened to me at that time.

  2. It’s really good that you wrtie a diary regulary. I tried several time to write a diary, but it’s so hard for me. Keeping a record of my routine is a way to know myself better but instinctively, I consider it as just trace of my past. Well, anyway, I believe the habit of writing diary is really good for you and I want to do like that.

  3. You use your daily records to reflect your teaching style, hoping to teach your students better:) Surely diaries are one of the most effective tools to improve myself! I often write my diary, usually about my daily life. And sometimes I write about what I worried or regretted. When I sort out my thoughts through it, I’m comfident of being better. So, let’s habitualize writing diaries together, teacher~!!!:D

    1. I assume that you mean you keep an English diary. I can’t think of a better or more personal way to keep connected to your second language. Journaling is also a terrific way to chart your growth in your English–one day you’ll look back not only at the important memories you recorded, but at the ‘cute’ little mistakes or style choices you used to make!

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