Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Beauty of Documentation

I fell in love with documentation, before I even knew what it was. My last placement in school was at a Reggio-inspired center, where they did documentation a little bit differently than I had seen it before. The teachers wrote in a way that told the reader how magical and special the moment was to the child.

As I would walk through the room, reading small stories about the children it truly warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face. The teacher at this placement was my mentor, she inspired me to do what I do every day now. So she began to educate me on what documentation was, and how to do it- which seemed to be very daunting at first!

I was learning so much about the Reggio philosophy at the time, that inspiration and passion took over and I knew that this was the right path for my future to take. I found it easy to document students learning in these centres.

When I began working in the school system, documentation seeemed to be focused on how many letters children knew and data for report cards. It was challenging for me because much of these observations were for reporting purposes and were not truly meaningful about the child, nor did they capture the picture of the whole child.

So, I asked my partner if she would mind if I began doing small pieces of documentation - I was not able to truly describe the type of documentation I wanted to do myself. She was very open to learning and encouraged me to express my knowledge of the children through documentation.

I have now created so many pieces of documentation in the last two years with the school board, I am very proud with the amount I have learned, and how deep I have dove into documentation. The way that I write my documentation, has changed this year due to my partner- someone who truly shares the passion I do. My partner this year pushes me to think a little harder, dive a little deeper, and most importantly embrace the moments a little more.

As the year progresses, our classroom has truly been all about the children and the learning they do daily. I am so proud of the children, and the magic they notice each day when they play and reflect on the documentation in our room so naturally. I hope I continue to learn about documentation, and about the Reggio philosophy, as this will always keep my passion and inspiration blooming.



  1. Sarah,
    Can you give examples of your documentation?

  2. What are some of the ways you document? Pictures, observation logs? Thanks :)

  3. Thanks for sharing YOUR learning! It would be great to see some examples of how you document.

  4. Sorry for the late reply! I just noticed these comments today!

    This year my goal is to alter and share some different examples of documentation - it all look so different! My biggest issue in sharing it online is that it has the children's names and often photos of them featured in it. I don't have the permissions to share that info online!

    However, my goal will be to blog a few different ways that we experiment with this year. I always say documentation/learning stories are very personal and all look differently, which is great!

  5. I'm so glad I read this post. I have lately been thinking about the different forms/styles of documentation and how personal it is. For the last 2 years in my grade 1-2 classes, I have been experimenting with documentation. It occurs to me that audience could be a factor. Who am I creating it for and why? If it's for students, shouldn't it be where they can see it, revisit it, add to it? Should some documentation be written solely for parents and how would it be different? Would the wording change and should it include learning expectations that were met and next steps (like a report card)? If it's placed in the hall outside the class, should Next Steps be included or is that considered evaluative and private?

    For me, the words beauty and joy come to mind when documenting the learning of students. I don't think I want to write a report card each time I create a piece of documentation, nor do I think it necessary to display an evaluative statement with every photograph. However, do I reflect on what the photographs tell me? Yes!

    As Sarah said, I too would like to "capture a picture of the whole child" and have it be meaningful for anyone who reads it. I would like it to be a celebration of where each child is and save written next steps for report cards or anecdotal comments. Next Steps could also come in the form of provocations, new materials and/or questions that extend learning and encourage further experimentation.

    Goals are also important and I believe that this is an area where criteria needs to be discussed and student voice is valued and represented.

    What are your thoughts on documentation?