Sunday, October 26, 2014

How Many Different Ways Do You Need to Document? (Really?)

People are confused and lost when it comes to programming and planning. Look, I totally get that you’re lost. I do. As a curriculum mentor I knew what I was doing, and then the more input people had into my thinking and practice the more confused it became. The more I read online the more convoluted it seemed. I thought that was bullshit. I decided to become a pedagogical hermit for a little while and I delved into the Standards and I wrapped my head around them. I shut out the background noise and I looked at the Standards themselves. NOT other people’s interpretation of them. Start at the beginning. The Standards.

Now what amazes me is some of these self-professed consultants. I am not a consultant hater. In fact I can think of three brilliant consultants that I know who rock. They are smart and challenging and cluey. One challenges the crap out of my mind but I adore that. I need that.

Be aware that not all consultants are created equal. KNOW who you are paying. KNOW who you are trusting with YOUR reputation. The consultants don’t go through Assessment and Rating. You do. You can’t blame them when you get working towards because your program lacks depth and continuity. And I have yet to see a money back guarantee.

I wonder about these shonky consultants. I especially wonder about consultants who promise you more with less documenting and yet they show you 25 different ways to document and meet the supposed requirement of the NQF?! How is 25 less? Guess how many styles of documenting I used to use when I was a practicing teacher? My curriculum cycle had three elements to it. So that is three documents. On the side I’d do little documentations or displays but they would slot into the Day Book or the Curriculum Reflections, plus the Children’s Portfolios. THREE. Then the types of documentations or observation formats I would create in the children’s portfolios? I made them all up. So it was essentially say about five different documents. And NOT one of them was a Learning Story. I am yet to be a fan. I might change my mind in future, but as of today, I don’t particularly like them. They’re too time consuming. I don’t have time. You don’t have time. Are you doing them at home? You shouldn’t have to! Home should be YOUR time.
I’ve seen it published that “old fashioned” ways of documenting such as anecdotes and jottings and checklists are no longer valid.
I’m going to be seriously blunt.

Fuck off.

Why are they not valid? Because everyone is taught to do them when they study? No one has to come to trainings or workshops or conferences to learn how to fill out a checklist or take a jotting? 

Guess what... Anecdotes and jottings and even checklists are still valid forms of documenting. And I STRONGLY suggest you do them.

Look, programming and planning under the NQS is not the simplest thing in the world, but it also doesn’t need to be the most complicated. Slapping 25 different formats that you’ve briefly been shown photos of is not going to get you far. It’s bullshit. It’s sales-pitches and marketing designed to get your money. It’s sure as hell NOT going to get you the promised “Exceeding” ... Why not do two or three or five and do them brilliantly? Why spread yourself so bloody thin that you’re completely transparent that no one can see you or what you’re trying so desperately to achieve?

I have so much more to say, but that will do for now.

© Teacher’s Ink. 2014 All Rights Reserved


  1. Agree, agree, agree :-)

  2. I agree with all of this. I have been trying to mentor a team to stop over thinking and achieve more, but I get tears. I get frowns that should all be spliced together in a montage titled, "without all of my set formats, how do I know what to do?" But.....give them a template, give them a list and I have a team busting themselves to complete them to their own exhaustion and to the children's detriment, but somehow they are more at peace. Frustrating.

  3. I swore I wrote a response to you Liesl - but it has clearly gotten lost in the interwebs!

    The formats tell them what they need to think ... without this, people can feel lost ... Perhaps you start removing the formats one by one and replacing possibly with ideas to write about or questions to prompt their thinking?

    So Instead of "Links to the EYLF" ... You might have "What elements of the EYLF can you see demonstrated in this moment?" OR even specify it more "What learning did you see demonstrated in this moment?" OR "What practices did you use to support the children's learning?" ...

    Perhaps document a learning moment yourself in detail ... then at a staff meeting work together to pull it apart and see what is really there? This might help to build their confidence in what they already know so they don't feel reliant upon those dreadful templates?

    - G @ Teacher's Ink.