I was flipping through some portfolios at a service I was working in and I made some observations:
Firstly, the portfolios looked the same. There were a few differences, but for the most part, they were copies of group observations all put into the children’s individual books. And by differences I mean, there might have been one or two entries that I could see that were individual – and they were something that the family did, not the services. The other aspects that I noticed were individual were the art works – but they themselves were novelty art (splatter painting etc) which are fun, but really not, in my opinion, a truly artistic practice. There were no detailed paintings like what my old kids used to create, as the children only had those short fat brushes with only 2 or 3 colour choices.
I read parts of a few of the observations, but they were describing what all the children had done, and there was little or no focus on the individual. I remember years ago working at a service and that was one of the criticisms of some of the educator’s portfolios – little focus on the child/ren, more focus on the larger group or the experience. I believe in a happy medium.
I didn’t bother reading what was written because it was just a narrative. I didn’t even see the educational point of the observation in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, the staff put a great deal of energy and thought into what they were writing, I just didn’t enjoy reading it.
The photos were not very inspiring either – they were photocopies of a print out or the child from a distance. I think that the photos should be really thoughtful – there should be intent behind the image chosen and the child should feature, or the child’s work. Also, there were so many different boarders themed to whatever the observation was about. It was so visually busy and really detracted from the work of the children.
I know I’m being critical. I’m not questioning their motives or their dedication, merely their focus. It’s easy to make judgements as an outsider, I know this. But I like reflecting upon my own work, as well as others as it encourages me to think and be creative and evolve as a professional. I have also seen some awesome things that have made me feel at a professional loss! I’ve seen some wonderful observations! But this experience of sitting down with the has really led me to think about what I am going to be including in portfolios in the future. I see value in some old practices that I was pushed into doing at a previous service. I can utilise these ideas and weave in more of the EYLF into them...
What do parents and children want to see in the portfolios? The children and their engagement and their relationships!
The children should be a prominent feature in their own portfolio/journal/learning story ...
(c) Teacher's Ink. 2012