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'Quality' observations.


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Just wondering what you think should be included to make an observation good quality?

 

I am struggling with a member of staff. She has been on observation/assessment training, I have role modeled, done peer observations, given her loads of written info, lots of support etc and still her obs are very poor and don't tell you anything, for example 'John made some snips on paper'.

 

I am looking for a few bullet points I can give to her to say this is what I looking for in an observation please.

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Is she managing to get assessments out of her observations? Does she perhaps only need to write the bare minimum in order to get a grasp on what level the child is working? Who are the observations for? At the risk of sticking my head above the parapet a bit, I could say that if she is managing with what she has, then fine. The observations are for her alone, to enable her to make judgements on what she sees. Once observations become wordy and over lengthy, because they are seen as a descriptor of a child's day for a parent to read, then they become something else entirely. A video camera could record that.

I had bullet points on notepads saying things like - I need to record this because -- it is an exciting development for this child, it is a behaviour incident that needs to be noted, it provides me with a significant next step, I want to note it for future study. As memory serves, that was it.

Perhaps as a team you could brainstorm what it is you want from observations.

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I do wonder with all your input already if your member of staff believes in the observation system itself - some still believe it's pointless! Some are not comfortable in their literacy themselves - and, as wise Cait has said if she is getting the information she needs to assess correctly and you are checking her assessments then just because she does not make them as descriptive as some of your other staff, does that matter?

 

When on observation courses years ago we had a number of videos to watch of children doing almost anything and had to watch, make notes and if we could make assessments from those into each of the different areas, maybe a staff training event along these lines could show not just her but all the others what there is to be "seen" and what needs to be recorded. You could get permission to video your children and set all this up for yourselves if you have the time.

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As Cait has said who is the observation for? I think the first question should be -what is the point of this observation, why am I doing it? The example you used for making snips, is it tracing the progress towards a next steps or evidence of next steps needed - using scissors, one handed tools etc. Is the problem with knowledge of EYFS and tracking back to development matters and child development?

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My lot write in such different ways I can tell who's wrote what just by looking at format, content and length lol. I just say to them (as I check every observation along with Deputy) if I can see how you have claimed which aspects you have then that's all I want if not then it has to be edited, I also try to get them to write in parent friendly words so our obs have changed over last year or so and are now minimal and not time consuming. The 'writing to parents' made a positive impact on the way they were written, so taking out our jargon x

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I'm not looking for observations for parents at all. I doubt half of mine even read them. I deem quality obs to include what the child is experiencing and learning and think the ob should reflect that. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Edited by MegaMum
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I'm not looking for observations for parents at all. I doubt half of mine even read them. I deem quality obs to include what the child is experiencing and learning and think the ob should reflect that. Perhaps I'm wrong.

No, not wrong at all, a good quality observation is worth its weight in gold!

 

If you don't think parents read them, then apart from yourself and the person who wrote them, who else does? I'm only playing Devils advocate here - I've had my share of tussles with poor observers! But I found it was necessary to look at what the writer does know about the child. A past member of staff was particularly poor at writing observations, but when talking to her about her knowledge of the child, she could rattle off attainments and development statements she had witnessed and maybe photographed. Her knowledge of the child's progress through next steps etc was phenomenal - for 14 children in her key group. I'm not saying that your staff member is doing that, and you obviously have some very valid concerns about her recording of what she is seeing. Perhaps as a team you could have a chat about what makes a really good observation, you could read out one of two each staff meeting and discuss what it tells you about the child, and if there's anything that anyone else could add. Maybe when she sees this happening, and joins in with the chat and group support, she will come to see 'in action' what is needed. It may be that the peer observations just weren't sufficient for her, but a whole team chat just might be.

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I'm not looking for observations for parents at all. I doubt half of mine even read them. I deem quality obs to include what the child is experiencing and learning and think the ob should reflect that. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Oh that's a shame, mine read a good percentage with us being on tapestry and the value and links we get through the observations being understood by parents is unmeasurable. I don't sit too much on observations like I say if it backs up what they claim I'm ok with that, I go more on what they can tell me about their key child which shows a true I depth knowledge of the child as if they are their own.

Perhaps then a group observation watching a video and everyone writes an obs on same video then you compare all as a team, as everyone has different expectations of what they class as what they need it's the point of coming together to share this jointly yet value different approaches.

If you have tried everything you can then send obs back that are not what you expect for re doing eventually you should just get through what you are looking for.

Edited by Foreveryoung
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