How to Keep a Reflective Teaching Diary

3 quick questions to ask after every lesson.

David Weller


Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

Keeping a reflective teaching diary is a pain in the bum.

We’re all told to do it to make us better teachers. What ‘they’ don’t realise though, is that in the real world, it’s just not possible (at least not to the standards that they hold).

Go ahead. You try to do in-depth analysis of every student, in every class, every week, and see how far you get.

However…A reflective teaching diary done well does make you a better teacher. It makes for classes where students learn more, are easier to teach and that are just generally more fun.

The solution?

Strip down the process and make it workable for busy teachers. Make it simple to use, functional, and fast. Make it a tool, not a burden.

How? By asking three questions after every class.

Three Simple Questions

  1. What?
  2. So What?
  3. Now What?

You can run through these in your head and note down the most important points. One or two sentences at most (keep it simple!).


  • What happened in class (what did you do, what did the students do — just the facts please!)
  • Did you achieve your aims?

So What?

  • What do you think of what happened (opinions now!)
  • Why do you think you achieved (or didn’t achieve) your aims?

Now What?

  • How can I improve the next lesson?

Honestly, running through these questions in my head as I’m walking back to the staffroom can yield some fantastic ideas. For years I kept notes on my old lesson plans — as soon as I got back to the classroom I’d scrawl the results of these questions on my plan. When you come to planning the next lesson, it helps so much!

Should You Keep a Journal for Every Class?

Yes, in an ideal world.

Yes, because even in classes where things are going well, it’ll still help you spot patterns of what you’re doing well.

Even on the fullest of full schedules (say, 15 classes), it’s only an extra 30 minutes a week.

However, we’re all pretty busy people. If that’s you, then use it as a tool to make breakthroughs in your most challenging classes.

Start today!

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David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.