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Observations that Make a Difference

by Margie Carter
September/October 1997
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/observations-that-make-a-difference/5011726/

I was thrilled to see this quote from Georgia O'Keeffe included in the packaging of a stamp issued in her honor by the US Postal System. It's one I've come to use often in my workshops, urging early childhood programs to not overlook the children as they focus on the regulations, checklists, and other paperwork aimed at ensuring quality experiences for children. I've also begun to routinely ask how many of my workshop participants have had any formal training or course work in learning to be an observer. It astounds me how few people - teachers or directors - raise their hands.

We know that most of our current workforce in child care has less than adequate in-service, let alone pre-service training in child development and early childhood education. To provide quality care and education, teachers need a great deal of coaching and support from their already overburdened supervisors. In my experience, time spent cultivating observation skills offers one of the most immediate, far reaching payoffs available to us.

Regular staff observations and discussions to interpret what we are seeing serve as a form of participatory research - a way to learn about such things as child development, cultural awareness, and environments that ...

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