Professional Master's Student Makes Impact on Professional Early Learning Community

By: Jesica Hurst
April 27, 2014

When professional master’s student Greg Marshall originally set out to investigate how education research literature links the topics of documentation and reflective practice, he intended to only use his findings for furthering his personal knowledge.

What he discovered, however, was recently shared in video format for Marshall’s course with Dr. Rosamund Stooke, titled “The Early Childhood Educator,” making a significant impact on other local professionals involved with early childhood education.

In his video titled “Documentation as Reflective Practice,” Marshall explores the effects that creating records of student and teacher thinking can have for nurturing growth in the classroom. Using a variety of sources to support his claims, he puts forward the idea that documentation can actually transcend assessment and become an evaluation tool for examining one’s own practice.

When viewed this way, classroom practitioners become researchers of student and educator development. However, research through documentation is also artful – it expresses the uniqueness and creativity of each practitioner’s own perspective. “Documentation of learning in the early years says something about the educator that created it,” Marshall contends.

“I had no intentions for [the video] to be an artifact that would be shared beyond the co-learners in this course,” explained Marshall, who has worked as a Full-Day Kindergarten teacher for the past year and the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) for the past twelve years. “However, I did share it initially with a few close colleagues, who appreciated it and wished for it to be seen by other like-minded professionals.”

Marshall was invited by Diana Goodwin, a Learning Supervisor with TVDSB, to share the project with the Board’s Early Years Interprofessional Community of Practice Group. This group consists of teachers, early childhood educators, administrators, program services staff, college and university educators, and community partners from local childcare. The group meets monthly to review, develop, and promote best practices for interprofessional work in the early years.

“I think people primarily appreciated [the video] as an artifact to promote discussion of documentation as something that we can use for more than just recording student achievement and sharing it with parents,” Marshall said.

“Through researching for the project and creating the video, I came to understand the value of documentation as a tool for examining one’s own practice,” he continued. “Through participating in this master’s program I’ve gained a deeper understanding of professionalism in early years education, and it’s given me a vocabulary for thinking about my own transition and a community of learners to grow and reflect with.”

While Marshall’s video is not yet available online, discussion with families regarding its release for public viewing is currently in progress.