Ten terrific tips for improving your observations
Being an educator, an educational leader, or an early childhood teacher working in early childhood involves so many things, and one of the biggest aspects of all of those roles is watching what the children are doing with their busy days, and using that information to inform programming, plan activities, and develop strategies and experiences to help them learn, grow and thrive!
ACECQA have shared that many educators find Element 1.3.1 – Each child’s learning and development is assessed or evaluated as part of an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection – to be one of the most challenging...but never fear! Our Sprout education experts have prepared their top ten terrific tips to make observations a breeze.
- Rethink the why - it helps to remember that observations are a way to tell a story about who and how the child is. Rather than a ‘magic number’, think how many observations do we need to tell a good story that doesn’t have any gaps?
- Choose magic moments - if you’re adding to a story, make it count! Choose those moments to observe something special. If 11 children are engaged with play doh, and they all get the same story, is it really special any more?
- Remember the 5 w’s! - observations tell a story, and all stories need to let us know who, what, where, when and why. If your observation is missing these elements, it’s got gaps.
- Paint a picture - while photos are great additions to observations, they don’t tell a whole story! If another educator, leader or parent looked at the photo, would they see the same magic you do? Add some words to the photos to ‘paint a picture’ of what wonderful things made you stop and capture the moment.
- Where are you? - we all act differently when we know we are being watched, and children are just the same. Think about your positioning in the space when observing children, and how this might change their play or learning.
- Do the do - Think about what the child is doing, and make sure the observation reflects that. Brayden was smiling as he filled up the bucket is a different observation to Brayden did an excellent job playing with friends in the sand. One tells what was happening, the other makes a judgement about Brayden’s skills, without sharing what was happening during the play.
- Stay away from subjectives - observations aren’t the time for adding your personal experiences, thoughts or judgements. Avoid statements like “Anna was sad and has been crying today because she doesn’t like playing with Sally.”
- Always analyse - An observation isn’t finished until the learning and ‘magic’ has been analysed and interpreted by the author. While an observation could be linked with many outcomes, focus on one or two. Once you have identified the outcome, use the events of the observation as evidence and link them to EYLF or MTOP outcomes.
- What’s next?- effective observations tell a story, but they also need to be a roadmap to what’s next. Include suggestions for follow up activities, events or opportunities that can build on what you observed.
- Reflect, refine, reimagine - the final tip for making observations better is to continue to reflect on how, when, where, and why you undertake observations, refine your practice by looking at how other places and spaces beyond your own observe children, and be open to reimagining the way you do yours!
Of course, if there’s anything our team can do to help, reach out. We love helping educators to shine! Check out our Sprout app on Google Play or in the App store, dedicated to making compliance pain free and easy, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Why not book a demo so we can show you how easy compliance management can be?