Protocol for observation booths

By Pam Miller

We are fortunate at the Lab School to have observation booths in each classroom, very few other schools have this feature. They meet many needs without having to disturb and disrupt the daily activities in the classrooms.

Researchers and university students use the booths to observe the children in a natural setting, which helps further child development knowledge and understanding. Another group that benefits is you, the parents. Sometimes children behave differently at school and at home, so it can be insightful to observe your child without him/her being aware that you are there. Also, some interactions that occur at school are difficult to describe fully without being present in the situation, so if some behavior or social interaction seems unclear, it can be helpful to observe your child’s class.

When using the booths, remember to either refrain from talking or use a very quiet whisper. All of the booths have only a screen separating the observers from the children and teachers. Any excessive movement or talking can be heard in the classroom. Even opening and closing the doors can be heard, so adults and children are usually aware that there are people in the booth. If children or adults happen to notice you observing, it is fine to acknowledge them with a wave or smile, but try to keep these gestures to a minimum so as not to draw more attention. Please also remember that anything you observe from the booth should be kept confidential.

If you observe anything that is confusing or you don’t understand what was happening, feel free to talk to the classroom teacher (after class is over) or Sheila Williams Ridge, the Lab School director. The Lab School staff values partnership with families and we want to keep communication open so that everyone can grow and learn together as children, teachers, and parents.