Our new manager wants a centre of excellence – so after feedback from parents who attend our centre, we are focusing on improving our pedagogical documentation. In many early childhood centres in New Zealand, pedagogical documentation usually takes the form of a portfolio. Portfolios usually contain documentation the community considers as evidence of child learning. An official view is that Pedagogical Documentation is content and the pedagogy is process. The use of documentation such as portfolios is to mediate understandings of adults and children; it facilitates learning and teaching by making thinking visible. Portfolios, when pedagogically used, are a tool to inform teaching, learning, and mediate understandings of children in their own diverse social, cultural and historical contexts (Alcock, 2000).

After a discussion at a staff meeting, we found we had some ‘contested terrain’ about portfolio documentation that showed child learning. There are sixteen staff members at our early childhood service – we all come from different backgrounds and places, our views of quality documentation are therefore different. Some of us write from an activity base, some from a dispositional viewpoint; some believe the links to curriculum should be explicit; others refer to the links implicitly within the text of their narrative. To resolve the issue and ensure staff buy in to any changes that may occur we brainstormed as a group what we thought quality documentation consisted of.

At a second meeting, we matched what is actually in our portfolios with what our brainstorm said we should have. We found a few inconsistencies in our original brainstorm. After discussion, the re-writing of these is to ensure we are focusing on quality practices. We will re-match what is actually in our portfolios with our brainstormed perceptions of quality.

In the meantime, I am taking each brainstormed point and expanding on it to clarify what it means:

Learning Stories: A Learning Story is primarily a story. It tells a tale to the child, to the family, to guests, and to us as teachers of children. There is not one right way to do it. However, it does begin with the child’s initiative and progresses through the subsequent stages of engagement (becoming involved) and intentionality (causing something). It is always about “good” things.

This is taking a bit longer than I thought ….we had a large brainstorm ….