I was aiming to have a new post on this Blog at least each month but a few things have got in the way - like marking! Another obstacle has been the desire to write about subjects that are not strictly ECE related. So I have been pondering another change of name for the Blog but Im not sure yet. So I have decided to allow myself to post things that are of interest to me as an ECE person in the hope that they will also be of interest to anyone who stops off here to read this Blog. Still a work in progress after all these years... but I am sure that is reflective of Education in general.
So here I am with a note in the diary to post something this month and I find myself with two main topics I want to share with you. The first is a book I am reading by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter called The Art of Awareness.
I have read or rather skimmed through this book before and enjoyed it but am rather luxuriously reading it properly today ( in the sunshine) through the lens of wondering what would be useful for ECE teachers to know about observation. The other topic I am going to touch on today is MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. I have been enrolled in two of these courses in the last month and am about to start my third.
The Art of Awareness
I am not going to review this book here as there are several reviews online and in the literature. Instead, I will make comments over time as I reflect on what I have read today and make connections with other readings and ideas. It is an excellent book that could be used (with some adaptations to suit the philosophy of a particular curriculum framework or philosophical context) in pre-service teacher education or as a part of professional development for teachers, either with an external facilitator or by using the book as a guide within a team of teachers. I particularly liked the thread that weaves throughout the book, arguing that observation is something an intentional teacher does every day, and which is not carried out just for the purposes of documenting assessment. When I see both students and teachers in centres I wonder if they have that same understanding.
Here's a question for you. When you make notes about a child
or take a photo, are you already intending to document immediately? Or are you
gathering information that will later be viewed and discussed in the context of a
range of information so that some documentation can be created?
I firmly believe we should document formally only when we have a real story to tell. And these stories usually take time. This is perhaps a real challenge for teachers who have been told to get a certain number of assessments per month into children's portfolios. But it is not just a problem for teachers and management to consider. The Education Review Office is the rationale given by many teachers for having a regular target for stories in terms of quantity. They are trying to provide accountability. Can we really support learning and provide accountability with the same documentation?