Monday, September 14, 2015

Making time for conscious observation during the day

Preschool teachers spend all day making observations.  We do it so regularly that we might not even realize that we're taking all of those mental notes.  We've trained our selves to recognize fine motor milestones, social emotional experiences, and scientific inquiry throughout the day, but do you ever take the time to just sit and watch your students as they play?

I mean, without considering assessments and portfolios, just to watch the children as they play?  There are so many things that you can observe when you remove yourself from their conversations and interactions.  Taking time to sit by yourself and just observe is incredibly valuable.  It can give you a better understanding of your students interests, opportunity to see how they interact with materials and how classroom centers work (or don't work), and any social emotional skills that you may need to work on.

The hardest thing about taking the time to make these observations is that it can feel counter-intuitive to a preschool teacher - someone who never stops moving - to sit down and just watch.  It helps to make it a part of your daily schedule.  Start with just 5 minutes during free play, take a chair over to a corner of the room, grab a notebook and spend five minutes observing the children and writing down your notes.

When you are comfortable with observing for five minutes try it out for 10 minutes, then work your way up to 15 minutes. These observations are my favorite 15 minutes of the day, and they give me so much insight into what is happening in the lives of my kiddos.  You can do this too, and you can use your observation notes to help you make decisions about class projects, upcoming lesson plans, and as evidence for assessments.

The more that you take time to observe, the more natural it will feel, and the less likely the children will be to interrupt you.  These observations also give the children the opportunity to play independently, which can be a new experience for some children, so it's a win-win!

Try taking time to observe your class and let me know how it goes!

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