Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Inner Observation

Observation takes some serious self discipline. It is hard to stay focused in a room that is sometimes loud, when a child is rolling around the floor, when the three hours go by so fast and lessons could be given! I have to hold my energy back and my judgment. Sometimes what I really "need to be doing" at those moments is to just sit there, observe without judging, see what is really there. In the end, that is a much better starting point for responding to the children's needs than my sometimes frantic putting out of fires.

Based on the fantastic lecture given by Molly O'Shaughnessy at the AMI Refresher Course that took place a few weeks ago in Florida, Jessica and I have put together a list of self observation tasks that we will practice and discuss at each weeks end.

Concentration takes practice! I think that beyond that, focused observation takes humility, friendliness with error, and honesty. Especially when it comes to self observation. Whatever we find within ourselves by the end of the weeks, we will try to improve on by practicing deliberately. Repetition, just like the children.


Notice words and phrases that you repeat a lot each day. Notice how you are saying them. Write them down. Are they effectively communicating your intention? Is there a better/clearer/more respectful way to say what you are trying to say?

Notice exactly what you are modeling when you are taking to a child. Visualize being/feeling how you want the child to behave/feel.

Notice what you are saying to yourself during the day. Notice how the hour and your level of energy. If you are noticing yourself becoming tired/anxious/impatient is there something you can do to help yourself? Ex: take a break, take out the yoga mat, have a snack, go outside for a minute, do the individual silence exercise. During those moments, practice thinking new and positive thoughts.

Examine your preconceived notions and assumptions about each child. Notice what you say about each child. Notice your judgments and recognize that they may be erroneous. Practice visualizing the child at his best. Recognize the child's progress, regardless of how minimal.

Attend to your own focus, mindfulness and attention. What are you concentrating on? Practice paying attention to everything that is going beautifully.

Create space for observations. Take time to observe each other and the opportunity to learn from each other through these observations.


Amy said...

I really appreciate this post. As a parent I need to do this too. Thanks the helpful hints for observing.

Sonja said...

Beautifully phrased, a real inspiration. I am determined to stop running around trying to 'catch' children for lessons and to let go a bit more. Thank you for your thoughts.

james boutin said...

Indeed. Well said. Sometimes hard to remember to do these things on a daily basis.

Andrea Coventry said...

Thank you so much for the reminder. I reflected on my own observation habits and linked back to you. :-)

Yasuyo said...

Thank you for this great post!Full of useful advise to my daily life:-)

Abigail Miller said...

I just found your blog. Thank you for posting this. I really appreciated the list of questions and the reminder about the importance of mindfulness. It is so easy, even when we make the time to observe, to focus solely on our students and their efforts and to forget that the quest toward self-mastery is important for us as well. I know that your post will help me to establish a more mindful practice and to be a more effective role model.
Thank you!
Abigail Miller