Reflections from the Teacher Education Program, October 2019
Jen Selbitschka, Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program Director
We are excited to launch a full catalog of new courses this year. One of these courses is EDHD 6400: Observation, Documentation, and Assessment.
While this course has many objectives, there are two that drive the core of the work. The first is to hone in on the experience of documenting to bring awareness and attention to the decisions made when in the moment with children. This awareness and attention supports Resident Teachers in becoming more intuitive documenters, increasing their chances of gathering artifacts that have potential for unpacking meaning and giving visibility to children’s thinking and learning processes.
Some questions the Resident Teachers consider to develop this awareness and attention include:
Is what you want to document best captured through photographs, notes, videos, and/or sketches?
When do you choose to take a photograph and why?
When do you choose to take notes and why?
When do you choose to take videos as opposed to photographs, and vice versa, and why?
When you are taking video, what causes you to choose to keep the camera focused on a particular situation for a particular duration of time, and when do you choose to change the focus to something else in the experience and then back again?
When do you zoom the camera in and zoom the camera out and why?
How do you find yourself participating through documenting?
The second guiding purpose of the course is to develop competencies in extracting meaning and understanding from documented artifacts. This unpacking generates multiple hypotheses and interpretations about the experience to inform understandings and decisions about next steps in the teaching process.
One challenge of the course is to break down culturally-influenced connotations that impact how we interpret the concepts of observation, documentation, and assessment. This process of breaking down has involved a great deal of “unlearning” through ongoing reflection and critical examination of the Resident Teachers’ direct experiences. Inspired by readings from Reggio Emilia, Italy and other inspired educators, we seek to embrace this experience of observation, documentation, and assessment as an effort to understand and a process of coming to know.
Here are a few reflections from Resident Teachers on the class so far:
Through the three rounds of observation and documentation, I learned a lot about myself because I needed to be vulnerable during the experiences and during the reflection after. I think this learning happened because I was forced to think about how I was feeling/what I was doing during the observations, which helped me learn about myself and how reflecting on the experiences was important for my learning in the classroom with the children.
There really is no end point or answer to observing and gaining insights. It is a continuous process and it’s okay to not get what you wanted or were hoping for, as the process is equally/more important.
I have begun learning to accept my subjectivity and involvement in what I engage in observation and documentation.
Observing and documenting is more than just a blurb on the wall next to an art project. I never knew that through documentation I could show how I am forming a relationship with a child.
Now I am learning that documenting and observing is ongoing, never conclusive, and assumptions are just that… they are not conclusions.
I think I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned to lean into the hard feelings and ask, why am I feeling this way? We analyze the children’s feelings and we analyze our feelings too! It’s a way to learn and to grow.
We would love to have your voice in conversations like these.
Join the 2020 – 2021 Boulder Journey School Teacher Education Program. Visit our website to learn more www.boulderjourneyschool.com/TEP