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xii Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL (Copple and Bredekamp 2009) has been published with recommen- dations for more intentionality as teachers implement best practices. We believe strongly that even with the calls for more account- ability and intentionality, observational assessment is still the best assessment method for teachers of young children to use. Through observation and documentation, you can get to know each child well, track his progress, and plan individualized curriculum for him. And we see many statements of support for observation and documenta- tion in the new edition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice and other professional recommendations. However, how teachers are asked to implement such assessment may vary. Throughout this book, we provide ways to use the observation and documentation processes so that they inform your work to benefit children and their families. We explore rich and meaningful documentation that gives you an indi- vidualized picture of the unique aspects of each child. We guide you in sharing information with families in ways that help build partner- ships to support further growth for the child. We include comments from many teachers who are implementing observation and docu- mentation in their programs—thus grounding our recommendations in the reality of classroom life. And we give attention to those of you who work with young children with special needs. From our experiences as teachers ourselves, as well as our work with early educators all over the country, we have learned that being a good observer and documenter makes working with children easier and more satisfying in the long run. When you observe children, you get to know them better. You can provide the right challenges and support; you can see trouble coming and head it off. It seems like more work—it is more work—but it will ultimately make your job easier. We have included many different ways for you to practice and refine your observation and documentation skills. You can try out various ways of documenting your observations. You can experiment with using what you learn about the children through observing them. And through practice, you can figure out your own style of do- ing observation well. No two observers or documenters are the same. You each bring to the experience your own personality, your own educational and cultural background, and your own life experiences. In this book we help you learn how to focus your observations. In addition, we share ways for you to systematically document or COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL