Earlier this week, I shared a photo of a reflective journal that one of our Studio writers designed last summer. Although we don’t see each other as often as I’d like to, whenever we come together as a group, I try to provide them ample time and prompts that inspire reflection. I find that asking them to revisit their responses enables them to define their needs and set goals with greater ease. I’ve used parts of the process below in my own classroom, in conferences with Studio writers, and inside of the schools that I coach in. If you keep a reflective journal of your own, you might consider working through these steps yourself. I plan to do the same later this month as I look back through my archives here in order to understand my own needs better.

  • Gather the entries or reflective responses that will guide your thinking and work.
  • Return to the earliest entries in your archives and begin skimming your work in search of some expression of need.

Where do you express frustration? Desire? Regret? Where do you appear to be on the edge of an important breakthough?

  • Bookmark, highlight, or cut and paste your findings.
  • When you have finished mining your archives, begin organizing your bookmarks, highlights, or text clips in like categories.

What is this work already revealing to you about your needs?

  • Once you’ve established categories, revisit each of them and pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that come up as you do so.

Which categories provoke the strongest emotional response? Why do you feel this is the case?

Which categories provoke new ideas, deeper thoughts, or information that changes or refines your perceptions?

Which categories seem most important to your current work or thinking?

Which categories seem most relevant to your emotional well-being?

  • Determine which category should take priority as you begin to set goals for yourself.

What do the posts within this category suggest to you about potential goals?

What do the posts within this category suggest to you about your needs?

In what ways have you changed since you wrote the posts in this category? Does your new reality inform or transform the feelings and the thoughts revealed within your archived reflections? How?

  • Use what you have learned about yourself to set specific goals and define your needs.


What comes next? In our case, I’d like to move forward by providing writers a strategy that they can use to advocate for themselves in conferences with me or with other teachers. I’ve spent some time developing one, and I’m hoping you’ll drop by tomorrow to take a peek at it and provide me some feedback.



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