What a wonderful email! The question you ask is a perfect self review question:
“One question we have been reflecting on is how authentic and relevant our own programming is for the children we care for? We wondered whether we were trying to plan too far ahead for an age group that has constant changing interest”.
Set that as a research question (this becomes the title of the self review)
Then put in a number of chapter headings:
1: What is our practice so far?
Put in some examples of your current planning, any wall documentation photos of this and any reflections teachers are prepared to write. Maybe you have discussed this at a team meeting and have some minutes from those. This becomes your base line data.
In this way you are using your documentation for a range of purposes and reducing additional work as much as possible.
2. What would happen if we stopped formal planning for the next month and everyone committed to writing learning stories?
Collect examples from each teacher. At your staff meetings read these out to each other and see what happens in your discussion. On the back of these stories write the comments from your teachers. My guess is that you will all have wonderful moments of thoughtful comment to add to the analysis the teacher has already written. Add this email letter to this chapter as well, as this is evidence of professional conversation wider than your centre. Add the evaluation forms from the workshop you all came to that night we met - more evidence of reflection without adding additional work. I think these kind of reflections are easier to write as they are immediately after some experience and the thoughts often just flow. There is often a lot of collective chat and excitement that leads to change.3.How are we tracing children's progress through our learning stories?
In this chapter put the learning stories that have links, continuity is the key to tracking children’s learning progress.. Start writing in your stories: When I read through your learning story folder I saw a story written for you from Karen and as I watched you today I can see how much you have practiced this .......
I saw you on Monday working hard to pull yourself up against the table and all that practice has paid off for look at you now!.....
4. How are we supporting children to grow their learning further? (the third part of learning stories - the what next, this is the individualised planning for children)
Put learning stories in this section that have thoughtful ideas about planning. Sometimes this will be acknowledging that the children are the planners and it will include how you are setting up a vibrant environment, full of discovery opportunities. Eg: We watched how you used the planks to balance and thought we would add some tree trunk rounds to offer some more challenge. I will be really interested to see what you choose to do. (someone else might write a story about what happens from introducing this kind of provocation. We need multiple perspectives to make Learning Story narrative assessments, valid). When you stop taking up your time with old style planning formats and put the additional time you save into learning story writing, you have more stories to share with families and use for individual planning.5.How have our families responded to these more connected stories?
Put any comments from families into this chapter including the comments you write into your learning stories after conversations with them.6. What changes have we seen in our children's abilities to be planners of their own learning?
7. How is our team more in tune with children's interests?
Have a fabulous time talking to each other and experimenting with ways that will work for you. What I hope most of all that this makes good sense, lessening irrelevant work and focussing on the work that really makes a difference for children and families.