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The Importance of Teacher Observation in a Child's Development

by Susan Revermann

Not only do parents want their children to succeed, teachers have the same objective. One of the ways that teachers help reach that goal is by making student and classroom observations. With the information they gather through the observation process, they’ll be able to work with the child’s strengths and weaknesses to achieve better student success.

Observations Guidelines

When a teacher does her student observations, she is to follow a certain protocol. Teachers go through thorough training to be become skilled, accurate, objective observers. Although every site is different and has their own specific guidelines, there are some universal rules for observation. The McGraw-Hill Companies points out in “The Developing Child Observation Guidebook” that observations are to be objective, respectful, ethical, neutral, low profile, unhurried and confidential. When observing, a teacher usually sits back, takes notes and doesn’t interact with the child. Since there are so many factors involved and they are all interrelated, observations and recordings are generally aimed at one specific development area at a time, such as social development. Those observations are then compared to the normative developmental average of children that age.

Development Observations

As your child’s teacher keeps an attentive eye on her students, she will be able to make initial observations, as well as progress observations over the school year. She will watch the children’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. That teacher will have a first hand look at how your child and other students grow and interact in the classroom setting.

Developing Classroom Lesson Plans

Observations help the teacher gauge what level her students are at and how to plan lessons and curriculum accordingly. This will help her refine and focus on the areas that need to be strengthened. She will then know what are reasonable expectations for her students. The teacher does keep in mind that all students progress at a different pace, so the lessons will have a broader range to work with the strengths and weaknesses of all the students.

Identifying Issues Early

Since the teacher will be watching your child’s progress over a period of time, she will be able to notice if a child is struggling in a specific area. She can then plan individual, customized activities to help that child. If any additional resources are needed, she can refer the child or parent to the appropriate professionals or programs for more support.

References

  • Getting to Know You Through Observation; California Department of Education
  • The Developing Child Observation Guidebook; The McGraw-Hill Companies
  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System Implementation Guide; Dr. Bridget K. Hamre, et al.
  • Gesell Institute: Questions Parents Ask

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images