Reimagining the Diary: reflective practice as a positive tool for teacher wellbeing
Are you a teacher or teaching professional? Have you ever wanted to keep a diary but never found the time? Are you interested in moving beyond the traditional diary format and using reflective practice to improve your own wellbeing?
If so, the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project at the University of Bristol would very much like to hear from you. This exciting research project (which has received funding from ESRC IAA and Brigstow) is in its fourth stage and is currently running at the University of Bristol, led by academics in the School of Education and Law, our creative partners Stand+Stare, and with support from Teacher5aday and the Bupa Foundation.
The previous stage of this project, run in collaboration with Teacher5aday, has received fantastic feedback. One participant said: ‘I have to thank @drlucykelly and @martynreah for the absolute gift that is [the Diary Toolkit]. If you get a chance to be involved in this in the future, do not hesitate. It’s an absolute life raft and place of sanctuary for me right now’ (RtD/Teacher5aday pilot, 2020).
70 participants will be provided with a physical version of our ‘Diary Toolkit’ for the first 2-3 weeks, and then a PDF version (created using research from the previous phases of the project, and sponsored by the Bupa Foundation) to use between January and March 2021. Having made a Teacher5aday wellbeing pledge, the activities within the ‘Diary Toolkit’ will be used to track their wellbeing journey across the two terms.
Why a ‘Toolkit’?
The ‘Toolkit’ reimagines, and reclaims, the loaded term ‘diary’ (Kelly et al, 2020) for twenty-first-century teachers. The ‘Toolkit’ moves beyond the traditional written diary format, reimagining it into a multi-modal, playful and creative space where participants are encouraged to try out a range of reflective activities to record their thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams, including: story-boarding, audio recording, free-writing, doodling and affirmation-writing.
The activities in this ‘Toolkit’ are designed to span a week, with the intention that you repeat the same format for a month or more. After working with all the activities for a month, you can choose which ones to pick to make your very own customised ‘Toolkit’.
The ‘Toolkit’ has three stages: transition, main activity, and reflection. All three stages will need to be completed each day and should take you no longer than 30 minutes in total. You can decide when you complete your daily reflection and, if you don’t have access to a printer, you can just use plain/lined paper.
Research and CPD support
This ‘Diary Toolkit’ is for your own use and will not be shared with the research team – although you may wish to share an entry as part of the online exhibition at the end of the project, which will celebrate our collective wellbeing journey. At the end of the pilot project, you will be asked to reflect anonymously on the process of keeping the ‘Diary Toolkit’ and the perceived impact it had on your wellbeing via an online questionnaire (taking 20-30 minutes to complete). The feedback from this questionnaire – as well as mini wellbeing check-in questionnaires (1 per month and no more than 5 questions) will be used to inform future research, commercialisation and teaching.
In addition to using the ‘Toolkit’, we will keep in touch with the group of participants during the pilot (i.e. between January and March) via Zoom. The first will be at the start of January (date to be confirmed) to celebrate the launch of the project. These sessions will offer bespoke wellbeing CPD, drawing on the expertise of Bupa and the Teacher5aday steering group. Indeed, Bupa Foundation are offering their fantastic ‘Wellbeing for Educators’ programme as part of this CPD element – watch this space! Indeed, we hope this approach will allow for a more bespoke level of ongoing support aimed at improving wellbeing in a measurable way.
How to get involved
If you are interested in participating, please complete the initial application form, which can be accessed here:
We only have 70 physical ‘Toolkits’, so we’re offering this on a first-come-first-served basis, with a reservation list. Participation is completely voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time. You can also request that your contribution is not named if you wish. Further information about the project will be given once we have our group of participants.
You can also find out more about the project here:
Thank you for reading this.
Dr Lucy Kelly, University of Bristol, PI for the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project