Documentation certainly has many purposes, audiences, and forms. It wasn't that long ago that the entire concept of documentation was completely foreign to me as a teacher. I owe all of my learning to the world of early childhood educators and the knowledge that they have shared with me.
There is a genuine excitement and passion that goes into composing a piece of documentation that is important and meaningful. I remember the feeling I had after capturing and sharing my first piece of documentation and from that day on I have valued the process of documentation.
I attended a workshop a couple of months ago at Charles Sturt University that involved many experts in the field and left feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure about where I was on my journey and how it all comes together in a kindergarten setting. There was a debate and discussion around whether or not documentation was assessment which really challenged my thinking on many levels.
Through all of my reflections I have come to the conclusion that...
Documentation is personal.
Documentation is new and foreign to many educations.
Documentation and it's role in the classroom is evolving.
Documentation is not a form of "assessment" traditionally used in the school system in Ontario. When I was in Teacher's College there was never a mention of it. Further to that, many of the new teachers that I have hosted over the past couple of years are completely unaware of documentation and how it can be used to support student learning. How then are we supposed to learn about the art of documentation?
My biggest wondering from all of my reflections is...are we redefining what documentation in Full Day Kindergarten looks like? Even writing that sentence makes me nervous because I do not want it to be misinterpreted, but I do wonder if it can look a bit different in a classroom than in a child care or preschool setting?
When I look at pieces of documentation done in Reggio Emilia or by educators with many years of experience I am often in awe of the beauty that they have captured in young children. I often think about how the small, ordinary moments that are captured carry such significance and beauty.
But...then I head back to my reality which is a Full Day Kindergarten classroom with 28 students and a curriculum to follow. There is a certain pressure, which I am sure is self inflicted, to capture "enough" about each student and to "fairly" represent all students in documentation. There is definitely a pressure to capture the right moments and to figure out when our observations should evolve into a piece of documentation. Finally, there is the challenge to understand how we can invite others into our documentation to make it pedagogical.
In the spirit of staying positive and capturing beautiful moments, I believe we have begun to rethink how we use documentation to capture, support, and make visible the learning of our students.
I am going to start a mini series of posts on the blog focusing on Documentation in Full Day Kindergarten. It will mostly involve my reflections, connections, strategies, and thoughts about how documentation has evolved in my practice. I would like to share about audience, purpose, forms, the how to's, the relationship between documentation and assessment, importance of questioning and some of the tools that we use.
All of that is far too massive for one post and I am still struggling to sort our how and what I can share...but I believe this is an area of growth for so many of us and would love to build communication in the comments with questions, wonderings, and personal successes/reflections so that we can collaboratively construct meaning.
I do not claim to be an expert or anywhere close to deeply understanding documentation, in fact I sometimes feel like I'm not even in the "right book" yet let alone the "right page". However, I always find value in sharing my learning and making visible the real struggles and obstacles that we face each day and that is my hope for this mini series!
I thought I would end with a quote that completely sums up how I feel when thinking about documentation...I certainly always have more questions than answers on my journey to refine and build my skills in documentation, but I guess that means I will always be learning!