By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. Pedagogical documentation can be viewed as a “process to explore all of our questions about children” (Ministry of Education, 2014, p. 21). It is a slow process that requires time but above all it needs to become a mindset – a habit of practice. Documentation becomes pedagogical when it is interpreted and analyzed by the educators and children who create the content and those that view it. Making the documentation accessible to others (children, families, other educators, community members) and inviting interpretations of what is seen provides multiple perspectives that forms foundational information that contributes to the creation of a curriculum path that is authentic to those involved. In my last blog post, I shared a framework that could support the progression towards pedagogical documentation. The comments offered by others point to the complexity of the process of pedagogical documentation. In an effort to learn and understand more deeply about how to support those just beginning to embark on the pedagogical journey I find the five aspects identified by Wein (2011) of an educator’s progression towards pedagogical documentation helpful.
Considering these aspects as strategies could these serve as a beginning point for the process of pedagogical documentation. I would love to hear your feedback on the strategies, please share in the comment section of this blog post!
Strategy Number One: Habits of Documenting – To continue to develop and progress to creating documentation that is pedagogical you should develop habits of documenting. Have the tools for documenting handy and recognize that there are many worthy moments to document that can occur at all times of the day.
Strategy Number Two: Become Comfortable – At first your documentation might be very descriptive in that it recounts the experiences of the children but the more you share and open yourself up to the interpretations of others you will develop your potential and capacity to go deeper. Develop your comfort level by going public with your documentation.
Strategy Number Three: Visual Literacy Skills – Considering the white space that surrounds your photos and collections of artifacts. Avoiding visual clutter will help you recognize how components of your documentation interact with each other creating an aesthetically pleasing visual for the human eye to view.
Strategy Number Four: Making Your Learning Visible – When you see documentation not only as a way to make the learning of children visible but seeing it as a way to grow and develop as an educator will help you conceptualize documentation as teacher research and professional learning. First attempts at documentation are placeholders in your progression towards pedagogical documentation as you work to study, interpret, plan and carry forward.
Strategy Number Five: Sharing Visible Theories with Others – When you move towards pedagogical documentation it is a process. You take time to interpret and theorize about children’s learning and make this visible by sharing your theories and opening yourself up to the interpretations of others. Your documentation reveals a greater depth of meaning.
Documentation can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before. Trying to let go of “am I doing it right” and just do it, is an important step. You learn as you go. Increasingly I am discovering that the more I learn about documentation, the more I don’t know. I am comfortable in this place of not knowing and I turn to others who practice documentation as part of their practice in my continued quest for understanding. I learn so much from my friends and colleagues at the Seneca College Newnham Labschool especially two amazing educators, Laura Salau and Tanya Farzaneh whose collaborative approach to documentation is inspirational. While working in two separate rooms down the hall from each other, they find the time and are in the habit of documenting, sharing, and collaborating. They recognize the importance of time in their own professional practice and in the work they do with children.
Recognizing that pedagogical documentation is a process helps early learning teachers understand that their first attempts may not be pedagogical. To begin, documentation needs to be created and collected. The more documentation that is created and reflected upon, the more the process of documentation will take on deeper meaning. Meaningful documentation becomes a form of advocacy. It speaks to the importance of early learning and the professionalism of those who document – that is the power of pedagogical documentation!
When you document you are making learning visible but you are also making teaching visible. Pedagogical documentation becomes a way to show your professionalism and commitment to teaching and learning. Begin at the beginning – document, document and document. Make it a habit.