The idea of documentation has been in my life a lot lately.
When I say “documentation” I’m referring to two things. One, a teacher documenting what that teacher does, and two, a teacher documenting what her students do. For example, I keep digital records of all the things that I use in my teaching, and even scan in my hand-written notes (that I write during class) to fully document what I did, when I did it, and how it went. Then, I document my students’ work by scanning in their worksheets, taking videos of their presentations, photographing any projects, etc.
None of the teachers I work with do anywhere near the level of documentation that I do. I understand why, because it takes me hours to scan and organize everything, and it fills many gigabytes of my hard drive space. There’s also the question of “When am I ever going to need this?” Seriously. When is future me ever going to need to look at Haeun’s grammar practice worksheet from 2015? The facts that it is very time consuming and often pointless are major problems with doing documentation, and yet…
I’ve written about assessment as a means of gathering evidence, and I see documentation the same way. If a student wants to challenge a grade, I have evidence of exactly what she did in my class. In fact, on numerous occasions I have had to pull up a file to look at what a student did on an assignment from months before. When it comes to assigning a participation grade, I don’t have to rely on my memory of what a student did, because I can just peruse my files and see the actual evidence in seconds. Evidence is what skepticism is all about. As time consuming as it is, I gather my evidence and can support my claims with it. (Trying to convince other teachers that it really is worth it however, that is a real challenge.)
However, there’s another side to this, a darker side. I think I’ll have to delve into that more with my next post. (See if you can guess what it is before I do. Hint: There’s a word beginning with “A” involved.)