September’s Time Took Me To October and November’s Observation

This year, I’ve been inspired by Beth Lyons to pick #oneword a month to help guide my reflection for that month. I’ve really struggled with my word for October. It’s so late in the month now that I considered not posting anything at all. My teaching partner, Paula, and I have continued to focus on September’s word of “time,” even as we’ve made it far into another month. While our students have been so excited to return to school and reconnect with friends, we’ve been thinking about time in other ways.

  • There’s the “time” to make Self-Reg and well-being a priority and consider what that actually looks like in the classroom.
  • There’s the “time” to support the development of academic skills through play, and the decisions around when we might extend some of this learning versus when the social interactions and problem solving during play might actually be the biggest (or most important) learning.
  • There’s the “time” to let new relationships form as seating arrangements change and different connections begin to happen.
  • There’s the “time” to just sit back, observe, and listen to play to get a better feel for the room and a better understanding of both kids and of ourselves. It’s this last point that connects to my new word: observation.

Yesterday morning, I was chatting with Paula before the students came in. I mentioned to her how much I learn about developing relationships with students by observing her in the classroom. I’m going to say here what I said to Paula at the time: “I wish everyone could see you in action.” There’s something about how she connects with kids that’s special. I think that part of it is how authentic she is when talking with them. They know that she wants to be there and they know that she’s interested in what they have to say. She also gets down to their level. She gets on the floor and plays alongside them. Yes, at times she records as she plays, but at other times, she just plays, and I love that just as much. I have to do that more. There’s so much connecting that happens as you get lost in the learning together. Paula also turns so much into songs: if it’s about gluing popsicle sticks or tidying up a mess, everything is to a tune. An educator once told me that children hear song at a different level, so they respond to it differently. The child that won’t clean up when you ask will do so when you sing it to a tune. Try it! I channel my inner-Paula at every clean up time, and it always works.

I was thinking more about observation when our principal, Tracy, came for a visit. Tracy visits frequently, but it’s not just for a walk-through. For her, the visits are about truly connecting with kids. I’ve already blogged once about my learning from her, but yesterday, she had me reflecting even more. We say that we learn from children, but how do we show that?

Often when Tracy visits, I’m involved with other children, and I see her appear, but I don’t watch all of her interactions. Yesterday made me think more about the nuggets of wisdom that we can glean from observing other educators in action.

This then took me to the news that I received after school yesterday: we’ll be getting a teacher candidate beginning next week until the end of January. Paula and I were chatting about this in the car as she drove me after school to pick up my car from the mechanic. What are some of the key takeaways that we might want for this teacher candidate? One is how we use our observations of students and of the classroom environment to inspire changes and provoke new learning. Another one is how we use our observations of ourselves — through video recordings and discussions as a team — to drive our professional goals and change our practices. Again, it comes down to observations: both of students and of ourselves.

With all of this in mind, for the remaining days of this month and into next month, observation will be my goal. This will be about observing other educators (including my principal, my teaching partner, and our teacher candidate) with the goal of changing and improving my own practices, as well as observing my interactions with students to reflect on what else is possible and what might continue to make things better. Yes, knowing me, some of these observations will be documented with photographs and videos, so that I can look back at them and reflect more, but I’m also going to try to spend some time just watching and listening without a device. What new learning might I glean when the device is away? I see possibilities here for personal and professional growth, and I’m excited to delve into new learning as I make observation an even bigger priority.


2 thoughts on “September’s Time Took Me To October and November’s Observation

  1. I am over the moon excited for the β€œtime” that teacher-candidate will get the learn with and from you and Paula!!

    • Awww, thanks you, Beth! Your support means so much. I love how you mentioned here learning from both of us. This team piece is something that Paula and I really value, and I hope that our teacher candidate also comes to realize the value of this team.


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