Friday, June 21, 2013

The Observation Phenomenon

One of my least favorite phenomenon occurs while I'm observing in a classroom.  Suddenly, the tone of the teachers changes.  There are activities on the table more frequently.  Children are engaged in play.  Why is it suddenly so calm compared to the chaos I've heard earlier this week?

Because I'm there.

And maybe, they have to fake it until they make it.  Would that be a terrible thing?  If we know that practice makes better (we're never going to be perfect, there is simply no such thing), isn't it a great thing if teachers have repeated opportunities to practice what they know is right?  Even if it seems to be just to please me?  Will they eventually learn these behaviors as part of their normal teaching tool kit?

Because I'm there.

As a director, it's my job to be there.  To be present not only within the center, but within their classrooms and within the moments I share with the children and teachers.  It's my responsibility to make sure the teachers are using developmentally appropriate approaches with our children and if that means they're faking it until they make it, so be it.  Eventually, the readings I share, the comments the Education Coordinator and I make, and the reinforcement they receive will encourage teachers to make the change in their practice.

Example:  We have one classroom that has been struggling to engage children in meaningful activities during self-selected exploration time (choice time) and I wasn't seeing much in the way of small group experiences either.  After several conversations and articles (with reflection) and observations by both the Education Coordinator and myself, we noticed something.  When the Education Coordinator walked into the classroom, it was quiet.  Children were working.  When the Education Coordinator asked the Lead Teacher why she thought that might be, the teacher immediately noted that children had learning opportunities set out for them that morning and the children were excited to use the materials.

And that folks, is what we like to call an "Ah-ha!" moment.  A light bulb above the head, if you will.


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