In my normal daily routine I have quite a bit of free time. More often than not, it ends up being spent trying to accomplish simple tasks that would normally take 20 or 30 minutes back in the States, but because of the skewed sense of normalcy here, these little things, like simple errands or grocery shopping, take several hours. I’ve learned to maximize my free time, but after I finish my work day, exercise, make dinner, run errands, and study for university courses, I’m left with less than I usually anticipate. Extra things like writing for this blog use up whatever’s left most days, and the rest is wasted on laziness or the occasional hangover. One thing I try to make time for most days, regardless of how tight my schedule might be, is writing in a journal.
In the last two or three years of studying to become an elementary school teacher, every onsite classroom experience I participated in required some sort of reflective journaling. Throughout my student teaching I kept a record of my experiences, which, besides going back and forth between a running log of all my failures and the ridiculous things I found my ‘urban’ students saying and doing, served as a way to work through the difficulties I was facing. Thinking back on it, it didn’t do much, and reading through them is much more of a lesson in self deprecation and humility than anything else. I ended up learning more about what not to do in a classroom through just about every firsthand experience imaginable in less than perfect schools with less than perfect students than I probably should have. It made me a bit arrogant about my abilities as a novice teacher, and, naively, it led me into situations that could easily be described as ‘over my head.’