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Planning for and documenting children's learning: An academic’s perspective

The purpose of this professional learning is for teachers to view and reflect on information from an academic’s perspective about planning for and documenting children’s learning.

Collette Tayler
University of Melbourne

In terms of intentional teaching, it’s really important that formal planning takes place. But that’s for any program.

The necessity to really know the children you’re working with, to observe, and to come off the evidence of what they can do and what they know and to push forward is critical.

The intentional teaching is to push children out into a forward space, rather than simply waiting to see what will emerge next for them. It’s a little more planful and it’s meant to take a high expectations orientation.

Children are amazing in what they can do. And in that sense intentional teaching does require some planning that involves knowing the children and then pushing forward with new concepts. One of the interesting things about documentation is, I think, a slight change of focus that’s needed at this stage. I know how much time teachers spend on documentation and it’s a rich, detailed explanation of what children are doing in a moment-to-moment sense.

It also comes at a very high price for time, sometimes and often done outside of work, over many long periods in the weekend.

We do quite a bit of documentation work that involves what happens other than the teacher doing the plans for the next event. The work is around: sharing with the children; documentation … getting them engaged in that process; framing and documenting their own work. It’s very important learning for the children and the concepts that come up there about what they might do, how they plan their work, how they review what they have done and what they have learnt out of that is amazing in itself.

And, of course, working with the parents to share in all kinds of different ways — whether it’s a tiny vignette, it’s a sheet, a single sheet that captures something, a couple of words or whatever.

There is many different ways to do this, but thinking about the documentation in a way that excites parents so that they know: a) their child is progressing and some things are moving on; b) they know exactly where they can help their child to improve, to keep focusing, or to redirect, because that’s what parents want to find out about documentation — so they can act themselves.

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