I fell in love with Bullet Journaling about 4 years ago, while I was a Principal of a large suburban middle school. Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal method, designed this method to “declutter your mind, cultivate your curiosity, and remain focused.” With Bullet Journaling, you start by making a list of what you need to do, what you should do, and what you want to do. Reflect on the list and ask yourself why you are doing these things. Every day, you review the list from the day before and use symbols to carry work forward.

“Transform any guilt into curiosity by asking yourself why each task might still be incomplete. Does it matter? Is it vital? What would happen if you didn’t do it?” ~Ryder Carroll

Ryder Carroll’s TedTalk about the Bullet Journaling method.

As a school administrator with 1100 students, 2200+ parents, 75 staff, and 10+ people in the district office, it was vital for me to find a way to stay organized and make sure that I communicated everything in a timely fashion, covered necessary items in meetings (staff, PTA, etc) and capture aspirational ideas and thoughts. Bullet Journaling helped me to capture information coming from various sources–from meetings, email, conversations, notes, etc–and organize it in such a way that I could take intentional action. (Note: I highly recommend using a different journal/ notepad for taking notes in parent, student, or teacher meetings. These notes might end up in a court case someday, so it’s preferable to have them separate from your working Bullet Journal.) The beauty of the Bullet Journaling method is that it’s completely customizable--you can decide how to set it up!; it’s easy to use–you can make it as simple or as complicated as you’d like; and it’s based entirely on intention, purpose, and reflection.

Side Note: Bullet Journaling for Educators

When I set up my Bullet Journal, I used the following format:

  • Collections:
    • Recommended Books
    • Recommended Articles
    • Professional Magazines
    • After School Programs
    • Parent Nights
  • Yearly Spreads:
    • School Improvement Goals & Due Dates
    • School Improvement Professional Learning
    • Observation Tracker
    • Book Study
  • Monthly Spreads:
    • Staff Communication: 4 or 5 boxes (depending on how many Mondays were in the month).
    • Parent Communication: 4 or 5 boxes (depending on how many Mondays were in the month).
    • Meeting Agendas (Union Leaders, Staff, Leadership Team, PTA, Site Council, Care Team, etc).: 1 box per meeting for the month.
    • Goals for the month.
    • Due dates.
  • Weekly Spreads:
    • Leave one page per meeting where you need to take notes. (I did this for meetings held by district office personnel.)
    • Use one page to track your priorities (I had a box for each of these: dinner each day, classroom observations, weekly to do list).

There are many resources for educators who want to try Bullet Journaling! Ted Foutz did a survey regarding how educators use Bullet Journals which you can find here. Liam Taft has some free spreads here. Toni Allyn, a veteran English teacher, shares how she uses a Bullet Journal in her classroom here. Hers is an absolute work of art, but remember that yours can be as artsy or as simple as you would like! Instagram and Facebook are filled with Bullet Journalers you can follow or groups you can join.

Bullet Journals come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to find the right one that works for you. When I started, I used a simple 5.5 x 8.5 sketch book. These are cheap and the paper is thick enough for the types of pens that I like to use (Papermate Flairs are my favorite!). Someone kindly gave me a Leuchtturm 1917 journal, which is a beautiful journal, but I found the paper too thin. Eventually, after so many recommendations from different members of a Facebook Bullet Journal group I belong to, I ordered an Archer & Olive journal and I fell in love! Take a look at them here (if you order one, I will receive a referral credit and you get 15% off!). They have beautiful, understated covers, thick enough paper to withstand the markers I use, a pocket in the back, and elastic to hold it together, which is ideal for when it’s in your briefcase, tote, or purse. Share how you set up your Bullet Journal in the comments! It changed my life for the better; I’d love to know how it changed yours!

Next week, I’m going to start a deep dive into how we can #MakeLearningPersonal with feedback. I’m so excited about this topic because it can make such a huge impact on student learning. Come back next week!

“Bullet Journaling helped me to capture information coming from various sources–from meetings, email, conversations, notes, etc–and organize it in such a way that I could take intentional action.”

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