Shifting frames of mind on 'linking'
I recently spent time with a wonderful group of dedicated and critically reflective Early Childhood professionals. Our discussion turned to the planning cycle and inevitably, the dreaded 'newish' dominant discourse word, 'linking' contaminated our conversation. 'But how do we link our documentation to the outcomes?' they asked.
'Who says you have to?' was my reply. This word and practice have dominated the dialogue of planning in Australia since the National Quality Framework was implemented in 2012. Digital documentation platforms are contributing to the discourse in the way they are being developed. Some of these platforms require educators to 'link'.
A quick word search of the Guide to the National Quality Standard (NQS) confirms my hypothesis that the word 'linking' is simply not there in relation to planning.
In Quality Area 6, educators are required to establish and maintain 'links with relevant community and support agencies' and 'develop links, share information, and work in collaboration with other community organisations they are better able to achieve the best outcomes for children and families using the service'. However, I cannot find any reference to 'linking' documentation to the Learning and Development Outcomes.
I am going to make a bold and disruptive statement right now. This word and practice are a waste of educators' time.
If we go back to the NQS, Element 1.1.1 it says, 'Curriculum decision making contributes to each child's learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators', but it doesn't say that we have to 'link' this to our documentation.
Early Childhood Hub has developed a planning tool that honours the planning cycle and the learning and development outcomes in a way that uses an approved learning framework to underpin everyday practices without 'linking'. Do you and your service use a planning process that honours the planning cycle without 'linking'? Perhaps you could use some of the critical reflection questions to guide your thinking about 'linking' your planning to your documentation?
- Who has told me that I have to link? Why? Who is 'linking' for?
- Why am I linking?
- If I am 'linking' is it authentic?
- Do I really understand the requirement for my curriculum decision making to contribute to the learning and development outcomes of children?
- How can I demonstrate their learning and development in my documentation without 'linking'? Is there a way to do this? How?
Critically reflective practice occurs when educators ask themselves these kinds of questions.
Let's make 2020 a year to challenge and diffuse the dominant discourse on 'linking'. Let's become pedagogical sceptics and rethink our practices with intentionality and educator's rights as our compass.
Contact us if you would like online training on authentically implementing the planning cycle without linking. 0419 524 989