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8  Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL This strategy engaged Paley for a while, but as it became routine, she found herself getting bored. Author Margie Carter recalls the following con- versation with Vivian Paley from October 1999: “Bored!” exclaimed a teacher listening to this story. “How could you pos- sibly be bored with twenty-six to thirty children to tend to? You must have been frantically busy!” “Of course I was extremely busy,” Paley replied, “but that’s very different than being bored. When I say I was bored, I don’t mean with the children, I mean with myself and my job. I didn’t find myself very curious, emotionally or intellectually engaged in what was going on. And because I was basically too lazy to go out and look for another job, I decided I had better make this one more interesting. So I began to create little games for myself that forced me to watch more closely what was going on. I’d try doing something one way with the morning group and then a different way with the afternoon class and then asked myself what worked better. I experimented with questions about how boys and girls might respond differently, about what other activities might be least interfered with by the loud noise of carpentry, and so on. And, of course, once I approached my work with this kind of inquiry, everything changed for me. I discovered the remarkable world of children’s perspectives and the unending delight of trying to understand the meaning of their play and stories.” Becoming a Keen Observer What will it take for our early childhood classrooms to be filled with teach- ers who view children and their work with this mind-set? Ann Pelo, Karen Gallas, and Vivian Gussin Paley offer us valuable models for how teachers can develop themselves by observing children’s development. Each of these educators has developed a teaching practice based on her deep respect for children and her curiosity about who they are. The curricula each of them created lead to the very same learning outcomes listed in conventional lesson plans. But they use an emergent planning process with more meaning and relevancy for the children. Throughout this book, you’ll find teacher observa- tion stories that provide examples of how observation can transform your teaching. Becoming a keen listener and observer is certainly the foundation of the art of awareness. If you consult a dictionary, you’ll discover that the definition of the word keen includes “showing a quick and ardent responsive- ness; enthusiastic, eager, intellectually alert, extremely sensitive in percep- tion” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition). COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL