4.2 : From Reflection to Documentation

Documentation is, in many ways, another draft of a reflection.  Sometimes, it feels difficult to sit down and begin creating documentation, either for a newsletter, a display, or a class website.  Beginning documentation with the stories that you have mulled over in your reflections brings a personal element to your writing, and to your publishing.

reflection documentation venn diagram

The main difference between reflection and documentation is that reflection is personal, while documentation is for an audience.  Keeping this reader in mind is key to making the edits that turn reflection into documentation.


Many of us learn about the importance of documentation before we understand how important reflections are to informing that work. I created the image above to support thinking about the similarities and differences between the two. The lines between the two can seem blurry: you may write something in a your observational notes that can go right with a photograph when you email it off to your audience at the end of the day. What is important, though, is that your expectation is not to immediately write publishable work. It may happen sometimes, but if we are writing to engage our audience, we have to decide if the priority is quantity or quality.

You may be an administrator, or a classroom teacher. Think about your role, your position: do you make decisions about how much to publish for parents? Is there a daily email, a weekly newsletter, individual portfolio expectations? When you get into a regular publishing schedule - especially a very frequent one - it can be hard to pull back from that. Time spent reflecting on children's thinking and learning is not only time spent preparing to translate that information for an audience, but also time well spent for curriculum development.

Put yourself into a research mindset. When you reflect, you are informing documentation, curriculum, your own personal teaching practice: that is powerful stuff!