Documentation – Are we there yet?
In this month’s We Hear You Blog, we encourage educators to develop confidence in their own decision making.
Do you sometimes feel you’re on a never-ending quest to identify the best way to document the cycle of planning? In the search for the ultimate template which specifies what to document and when, how will you know when you have arrived at the strategy that works best for your service, children, educators and community?
While there is a lot of guidance available to support providers, educational leaders and educators to make informed choices about meeting the requirements of the National Quality Framework (NQF), there is no magic template that will suit all educators, services and contexts. Educators reflecting on their practice, who constantly strive to ‘do it right’, may ask questions such as ‘how much information is required and what methods should we use to collect information about children’s learning?’ There is often a call for a template or a list of ‘must haves’.
It is a myth that the answers to these questions might be found in a template or a prescriptive list. A strength of the NQF is that it supports educators to feel empowered and develop confidence in their own professional judgement and decision making.
One of the best ways to know if we are on the right track is to consider the outcomes of our practice for children and families. The National Quality Standard (NQS) helps to focus on outcomes, and acknowledges all children as capable and competent learners. It requires educators to draw on their pedagogical knowledge, the legislative framework and quality standards, as well as the understanding they have of the children, families and communities within the unique context of the service.
The approved learning frameworks encourage educators to draw on their own skills, knowledge and understandings. In making professional judgements, they weave together their:
- professional knowledge and skills
- knowledge of children, families and communities
- awareness of how their beliefs and values impact on children’s learning
- personal styles and past experiences.
Educators also draw on their creativity, intuition and imagination to help them improvise and adjust their practice to suit the time, place and context of learning. (Early Years Learning Framework, p.5/ Framework for School Age Care, p.7)
So the answer isn’t in a template, but instead will be based on your knowledge of the National Law, National Regulations, NQS and the approved learning frameworks. It will involve discussing, questioning and reflecting as a team and considering how you are working to improve outcomes for all children, families and communities.
This should be happening as a part of your service’s continuous improvement journey. By adopting a more analytical approach it actually has a win-win effect. As educators develop confidence in their own professional judgement, they are more likely to critically reflect on and question statements like ‘this is the way we have to do it’ or ‘that’s the way we have always done it’.
Connecting with the intent and rationale behind practice assists in the process of articulating to families, the community and authorised officers, why and how professional judgements are made and how they support quality outcomes for children.
Further reading and resources
Review and reflect on the new version of Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics.