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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL But rather than fostering enthusiasm, most instruction on observation turns it into a tedious, arduous process, not the experiences that Pelo, Gallas, and Paley describe. As teachers face increasing requirements to use checklists and complete assessments, observing loses even more vitality. If we as a pro- fession allow this to happen, we will sacrifice one of the most joyful, engag- ing, and intellectually stimulating experiences teachers can have. Children, in turn, lose the possibility of having their play and ideas taken seriously. Their activities are less likely to be what Forman describes as “learning encounters.” When you see your primary teaching role as closely observing children and communicating what you see, you’ll find yourself surrounded by amazing learning encounters. Becoming a keen observer is a way to learn child devel- opment, to find curriculum ideas, and to meet requirements for assessing outcomes. It’s also a way to keep from burning out in a stressful job. The Art of Awareness offers you a series of activities to develop yourself toward that end. Inspiration from New Zealand In the years between the first and second editions of this book, 2000 to 2013, we as authors have had the good fortune to meet many fine educators. Among them we have encountered the remarkable commitment of the Ministry of Education in New Zealand and the inspiring work of early childhood educators there. They in turn have drawn inspiration from the international community, influenced by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Ministry of Education has crafted a new early childhood system that honors the Treaty of Waitangi, creating an inclusive environment for all New Zealanders and, specifically, the Maori people. We have studied their transformational process. Our annual vis- its to New Zealand have given us a firsthand picture of their teaching practice. It is based on a view of children as competent and deserving of respect, while valuing different cultural funds of knowledge as equally worthy. We encountered Margaret Carr, a professor at the University of Waikato, and her important work on using Learning Stories as a tool for assess- ment and professional development (Assessment in Early Childhood Settings: Learning Stories, Sage Publications, 2001) as well as her newest book with Wendy Lee, Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education (2012). Her work has strongly influenced our ongoing teacher-education work. Together with our colleague Tom Drummond and in consultation with Carr and her colleague Wendy Lee, we have adapted the Learning Story approach for a North American audience. We have seen inexperienced and mature teachers alike adopt the Learning Story approach to study their obser- vations. They have written stories based on their observations that reveal COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction 9