This week is one of my favourite times of the term. This excitement is not shared by all members of staff at Rachel Keeling though: it's performance management observations week.
All teaching staff are observed in a range of learning experiences across the week. We then meet and engage in reflective professional dialogue: discussing the experience children were involved in, the learning intentions, process and evaluating its effectiveness and next steps.
We do not judge performance solely on one experience observed - we gather information all the time, as we teach alongside each other, through daily evaluation meetings and weekly planning meetings, regular professional conversations as well as recounts over lunch in the staff room (or the "laughing room" as one child referred to it as). Staff also have the opportunity to observe each other and engage in Learning Conversations, a triangulated model of sharing good practice. This sits alongside Peer Reviews, ECERS and Leuven audits which we at Rachel Keeling are involved in cyclically.
During the week I have observed children baking collaboratively, learning to thread needles and sew, develop independence in serving themselves lunch and supporting each other, being taught to master the process of making hot chocolate on a freezing day, developing confidence and skill in playing pitched bells and developing and understanding of musical notation, experiencing the unbridled joy of mastering the two wheeler pedal bikes and having their ideas and understanding of our Rachel Keeling Values shared with Jamal, one of our Persona Dolls. Within every single experience the learning was boundless and children's ideas and thoughts were valued and skills and knowledge was developed. The uniqueness of each practitioner's style was evident yet the consistency of the quality was equally high: children were engaged in purposeful learning.
My favourite moment though was during a baking experience where Aminah asked me "What are you writing Becky?" I explained I was writing down all the learning the children were engaged in. Confused, Aminah looked me straight in the eye and said "We're not learning, we're cooking!"
Therein is the key, children are constantly learning but through experiences which are meaningful and relevant.
Rachel Keeling Nursery School
Bullard's Place, Morpeth Street, London, E2 0PS
Tel: 020 89805856
RACHEL KEELING IS PART OF THE RACHEL KEELING AND CHILDREN'S HOUSE NURSERY FEDERATION