I have been using a Bullet Journal since January. This free form planner has been at my side for about 6 months – and even though I’m changing my system a little with the start of the new school year, I still see benefits to the system. Some weeks have been better than others, but overall using it has helped me stay more focused on goals, kept me organized, and provided a consistent place to reflect and grow both personally and professionally.
Information about the original Bullet Journal concept can be found here. According to the website “The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.”
Up until now most of my organization and planning has been digital. I have embraced many digital tools over the last 20 years. If a new tool was introduced, I had to try it – Palm Pilots, iPads, iPhones, laptops, digital planning apps, etc… I still use many of these tools (minus the Palm Pilot). Yet, I often carry a paper notebook with me where ever I go for quick notes. I decided to take the plunge with a Bullet Journal on January 1.
You can Google or Pinterest Bullet Journal to find that this analog type of planner has become an art form for many – each as unique as their owner. Mine is rather simple compared to others, but it works for me. I do find creating weekly and monthly spreads to be relaxing. Think free-form adult coloring book!
Now after 6 months of using a Bullet Journal I am starting to think about the benefits to educators and instructional coaches. I know many have already embraced paper planners to do their work. Yet, our jobs are not a one-size fits all job so why should our planner. The beauty of the Bullet Journal is that YOU make it YOUR OWN. YOU decide what to include. YOU organize it in a way that fits YOUR needs.
I don’t have all the answers to how educators could use a Bullet Journal – I’d just like to open the conversation. We can use the comment section on this post or I’d welcome the conversation on my Learning is Growing Facebook Page. There is also a Facebook group I belong to called K-12 Teachers who Bullet Journal you might like to check out.
How To Start A Bullet Journal
To start with you will need a notebook. There are many to choose from! I have found many bullet journalers like dot grid or graph paper type notebooks because they help with designs, but lined paper works just as well. Some start with a simple Composition notebook (the kind that is probably on sale right now). Did you know they come in Lined, Grid, and Dot Grid? Check out the school supply aisles for great deals or wait a while for clearance sales! Other favorites with Bullet Journalers are Moleskins (dot or grid) and Leuchtturm1917 (dot or grid). Larger notebooks are also available like this. Educators may also like the flexibility of bullet journaling in a binder that pages can be added or moved around. Once you start thinking about Bullet Journals you’ll find yourself searching for the perfect notebook FOR YOU. If you are an educator you probably have a stash already! I started out with a gridded Moleskin I happened to have on hand. I watched sales and now have another ready to use when my first one is filled up.
Bullet Journal Set Up
As stated above, a Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. My first attempt was set up is similar to the directions on the Bullet Journal website. I also gleaned many ideas from Pinterest, Google and YouTube (Boho Berry has many helpful videos!). Each month I included:
- A calendar of the month (either found online or from smaller calendars found on sale)
- A page for reflections that I add to during the month
- A month at a glance page
- A page for goals for the month (personal and professional)
- Daily pages (3 days of the week on one side and 4 on the other)
- Double doors (for more personal information to be added inside). Double doors are two pages folded towards the middle.
I also created a variety of lists in the back including favorite quotes, affirmations, books read & to read, movies watched and to be watched, health goals, virtual coaching business information (client names/goals), etc…
How Educators are Using Bullet Journals
As I mentioned earlier, there is a Facebook group called K-12 Teachers who Bullet Journal. I have enjoyed the conversation about how they use bullet journals. I decided to do some searching or other ideas. Here are a few resources you may find helpful.
- Sixteen Bullet Journal Layouts for Educators
- Bullet Journaling for Teachers
- Coffee for the Brain (posts & videos about Bullet Journal journey)
- Bullet Journal Setup for Educators, Teachers, and Academics
- How to Use your Bullet Journal for Lesson Plans
- Bullet Journals for Teachers
- Bullet Journal: Weekly Spread for Teachers
I learned early on, in my career as an educator, that organization and reflection were critical. The Bullet Journal concept provides a means for both. As I start the school year I must admit I did find a pre-made planner that was similar to the bullet journal format as I still feel I need my monthly and weekly spreads ready in advance. This is the one I am taking for a test drive (I found mine at Target). The features that caught my eye were the daily inspirational quotes, the gratitude section and the push to not only organize my day, but encourage me to choose my “top three tasks.” There is also a note section in the back that I plan to use for my work-related “lists”. I am still drawn to the free form of the bullet journal and plan to create a notebook for my work with instructional coaches. Right now I see sections for notes, reflection, future planning/goals, and a variety of lists related to coaching. In my work as a virtual coach to instructional coaches I am noticing that similar needs bubble to the top. Keeping notes on resources to share will be time saving. I’m sure my coaching bullet journal will grow just as I do.
How do you stay organized as an educator?
How do you reflect on your own growth and the growth of the students and/or teachers you support?