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How To Organise Observations?


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Hi all,

 

Just wondered if anyone had an opinions - which I'm sure you do! - or advice - even surer!! xD:o which would help me get my head around this....

 

This is the situation....

 

My setting is embarrassingly poor at carrying out observations that are more than a couple of lines (while these are valuable I would still like to see some more indepth obs).

 

I have had to carry out some long obs for my FDEY, which I really enjoyed, shared with my colleagues, used to analyse both children's learning and my own practice. They were shared with parents.... which went down very well! and I just think this should be a 'normal' part of all our practice.

 

I suggested these thoughts with my colleagues and they were all for it (recognising that neither of them do as many obs as perhaps they should)... we had a big discussion that obs need to be meaningful, and should inform planning, profiles, etc. and that if they don't then what were they done for?

 

All good so far - a real step up in terms of our overall practice, except..... they have asked me to guide them on what to observe - and that's where I'm just a little bit stuck.

 

Do you have an 'objective' in mind when you start an observation? I don't like the thought of just saying "I'm going to observe Johnny now - let's see what he's up to..." and then just writing down what happens.

 

But would this be a good starting point just to get everyone moving on regular observations?

 

I tend to be very aware of what the children are involved in and when something catches my eye as a 'wow' moment then I will record and get involved in an observation. But that is quite a hard concept to pass onto someone else if they don't get 'grabbed' by something the children do or say.

 

Would it be better to carry out an adult-led activity with the view to observing XX child?

 

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.

 

:(:(:( :wacko:

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This is something that we too need to do and I am making inroads to sorting out.

 

Initially we will be observing them to just see what they are up to but I think as these observations continue to be carried out, we will then begin to identify specific things that we want to look out for. I usually begin the observation when the children are engaging in CI play but if they go to an AI activity, I just carry on.

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We tend to do long observations generally in our setting and just record WOW moments in short format, after doing a couple of 'random' long obs on a child you begin to get a picture of where any gaps may be, and then the observations can be more directed to fill these in. Its better really that your colleagues just get the practical experience initially if this is new to them, and all will become clearer as they get more confident. :o

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Observing with an agenda in mind can add more pressure, so I would suggest you start with encouraging them to watch and write what they see. Some people do find it really hard to move away from the 'Fred likes the sand' comments and actually note what the children do, and this will be good for staff development.

 

Once they have more confidence the 'loo listen and note' section of the eyfs is helpful in focusing on some specific things.

 

If you re able to, observing a child together is a valuable exericse, for each peson will draw out thier own importnat bits of what they see. Filming, if you ever do this, is a good way to discuss together, and could become a regular part of your team development.

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I have found it helpful to have a couple of staff doing an observation of the same activity. One person who knows how to do obs and the other who is a bit unsure. They can then chat about what they have seen together.

Sometimes it's helpful to use a video you have taken yourself and chat about the important elements of what you can see and hear.

 

I have made labels for the staff notebooks that say:

I want to record this because:

 It is a behaviour incident

 I want to remember it for future study

 It is an exciting development for this child

 It gives me ideas for an activity for this child

 I want to share it with someone else

 

which helps to focus the mind nicely! I also have a proforma observation label which reminds staff to record, name, date, solo/group, CI, AL, what happened, whether it's a 'next step,' Laevers, areas of EYFS it covers and whether it provides a 'next step'

 

I'm also against doing observations just for the sake of it

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Hi,

When i took over has senior i changed how we do the ob's the staff had pages and pages of eveidence in a file, one i took over had 50+ pages so i thought wow loads of info on this child, how wrong can you be.. nothing was dated, no photo's and on some of the art work no ob's to back it up either Arrrg and then we had the usual judgmental comments like ' tommy loves dressing up' just because they had a photo of a child wearing an outfit... very frustrating. so we now have a new system.

 

I have asked for a minimum of 2 long ob's (5-10mins) each full term, and linked to at least 10 points on the look listen and note.

4 short ob's (wow moments etc) and also a piece of work its up to the individual member of staff if they do more than this but i did tell them its all about 'quality not quantity'

 

They are happy with the system now especially as they know what is expected of them, and not just doing observations willy nilly, the learning journeys are looking good, if you use PRAMS or the progress matters framework when you input your info from the learning journeys you should be able to see gaps in your provision and evidence, we use this then to give us our next steps, and what to look for when observing the children.

 

hope that helps

 

mk5698

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I think its sometimes hard to get the right balance between a quick scribbled note and the really long obs that give too much detail e.g. X pulled out a chair with his left hand and sat down at the table. He reached for a blue pencil and...

As everyone has said, its the quality of the obs that matters and what it can tell you about the child's learning and/or development.

I also think that less experienced staff need lots of practice at making observations that are useful. Its one of the hardest skills we use.

Beehive

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I have made labels for the staff notebooks that say:

I want to record this because:

 It is a behaviour incident

 I want to remember it for future study

 It is an exciting development for this child

 It gives me ideas for an activity for this child

 I want to share it with someone else

I fear that we're falling into the trap of doing observations 'for the sake of it', so I'm trying to set up some sort of structure to our observations too. I hope you don't mind me stealing your idea Cait, but I'd like to put these prompts on our observation sheets - I think they'll serve as a really handy reminder about exactly why we're doing a particular observation.

 

At the moment our observations are almost all 'catch as you can'. However, I noticed that some children's evidence files were slimmer than others, so I started listing a small number of children each week to try and get observations on. The support staff took these lists and began writing down anything and everything these children did at random times, leading to observations that were definitely done for the sake of it! If you have a particular child in mind for observations, how do you go about it? Or are all observations supposed to be 'catch as you can'?

 

Hope that makes sense - I think I'm beginning to ramble! :o

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At the moment our observations are almost all 'catch as you can'. However, I noticed that some children's evidence files were slimmer than others, so I started listing a small number of children each week to try and get observations on. The support staff took these lists and began writing down anything and everything these children did at random times, leading to observations that were definitely done for the sake of it! If you have a particular child in mind for observations, how do you go about it? Or are all observations supposed to be 'catch as you can'?

 

 

Your asked the question better than I did!! :oxD

 

Thanks for all your answers - glad I'm not the only one that finds this difficult!

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I find that most of the really good observations have been spontaneous ones, where I'm not specifically looking to get something, but I'm just engaging naturally with a child, or I'm doing something and become aware of some great activity going on around me.

 

I think there's a very great danger of looking at a file and thinking - ooh goodness, have I not done an observation of Jimmy since November!! Must do one now! Chances are that Jimmy isn't doing anything startling at the moment and you end up with something second rate.

 

I think it's about having antenna, about knowing where your children are - physically as well as developmentally - and being able to just spot that 'WOW' moment you want to record. Sometimes it's a short paragraph and at other times it's a page because it's impossible to stop writing down the fabulous stuff that's going on.

 

Keep it manageable, keep it simple, and remember what and who the observation is for!

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