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1: Observation and Documentation - The Key to Intentional Teaching

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    To provide children with a safe and nurturing learning environment and to maintain program effectiveness, teachers must incorporate observation, documentation and assessment into their daily routines. To truly be effective, teachers must develop skills and strategies that are grounded in best practices. In this chapter you will be presented with information that highlights how observation and documentation can be used as a key strategy to ensure intentional teaching. You will examine the initial steps to take to becoming a skilled observer, and you will reflect on how to objectively document the interactions that you see and the conversations that you hear. It is important to note that becoming a skilled observer takes time and practice, and that learning how to incorporate observation, documentation and assessment into your regular routines and daily duties requires some thoughtful consideration.

    • 1.1: The Role of Observation
      Observations are conducted every day in early childhood classroom environments. Teachers are constantly surveying the environment and completing safety checks to make sure the equipment and materials are safe for the children to use. Teachers also perform daily health screenings to ensure their children are healthy enough to participate in program activities. Beyond the standard safety check and health screening, teachers have many other important tasks and duties that they must do in order to m
    • 1.2: Becoming a Skilled Observer
      To truly observe a child, you must be present, knowledgeable, inquisitive and intentional. With every observation, you will sharpen your skills as you learn how to effectively gather objective evidence and detailed data.
    • 1.3: Observations can be Spontaneous or Planned
      Spontaneous observations occur all the time. Whether teachers are actively engaged with their children during an activity or in the background cleaning up after an activity, teachers have numerous opportunities to see and hear some wonderful developments as they randomly occur. Planned observations require becoming a skilled observer and takes practice. At first you may be slightly overwhelmed with trying to incorporate an official observation time into your already busy schedule.
    • 1.4: Questions you may want to ask yourself as you plan your next observation
      Important questions to ask before you observe.
    • 1.5: The Role of Documentation
      One of the cornerstones of a high-quality early care and education program is the practice of observing, documenting and assessing children’s development. According to NAEYC (2009), in order to make formative decisions that will guide what goes on in the classroom, there needs to be an organized system in place to collect information.
    • 1.6: Objective versus Subjective Observation Evidence
      Intentional teachers must learn how to write objective observations. As you observe, it is best to write down all that you see and hear, and report just the facts.
    • 1.7: Recognizing Your Biases
      Google the word bias and this is what pops up: “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.”
    • 1.8: Ethical Guidelines when Observing Children
      Every day, teachers observe, record and capture essential moments in a child’s development. The evidence and artifacts that are gathered are then used to plan curriculum and assess development. Although we have highlighted the importance of gathering work samples and observation evidence as a key element to be an intentional teacher, we must also consider the perspective of the child. In the article “Who is Watching? Thinking Ethically about Observing Children” the authors highlight some of the
    • 1.9: Observation and Documentation Dos and Don’ts
      Observation and Documentation Do’s and Don’ts
    • 1.10: Conclusion and References
      To become a skilled observer takes time and practice

    This page titled 1: Observation and Documentation - The Key to Intentional Teaching is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gina Peterson and Emily Elam.