While observations aren’t directly written into our roles as school counselors, I find them to be extremely helpful from time to time.
Why do a student observation?
Student observations help you observe student behaviors and get to know them better outside of your office. They are also a great way to collect data. By going into the classroom and observing a student you can see how they are interacting socially, how they are managing their emotions, and how their behavior impacts their learning.
Pros of Student Observations
You can see how students act in a classroom setting. Without observing students, you are only interacting with them in your office on your terms.
You can see how teachers interact with the students. This can be especially helpful so you can give teachers pointers on how to interact with difficult behaviors, language to use to help the student self-regulate, etc. You could also help them create a behavior chart or motivation system for the student.
Cons of Students Observations
Your caseload is large and your time is limited. Observations take time and you’ll likely want to do more than one. (Bonus points if you have two students in the same class!)
It can be a distraction to other students. You walk into the classroom and you’re immediately greeted by waves and “ Hey Mrs. Davis!” This is undeniably charming but can be distracting. Try sneaking in quietly or already being in the room when the class arrives.
They may act differently when you’re there. You want to witness the student behaving in the most typical classroom environment as possible.
When Should I Do Student Observations?
Remember, you’re not a behavior specialist. If your school has one (lucky you!) you may not have to do observations at all. These are not a regular or expected duty, but they are helpful for the kiddos who need extra behavioral support.
You want to see how a new student is adjusting to the class (possible observation schedule: 1x a week for 1 month)
You want to observe how a student’s behavior changes at different times of the day (possible observation schedule: 2x a day for 1 week)
The frequency varies based on student’s needs, teacher’s preference, etc. You may want to schedule some into your week and take on as-needed ones occasionally.
Think Outside of the Classroom
Observing students at lunch and recess is a great way to avoid those distractions and changes in student behavior. You can probably observe more than one student during these times too! This is a great opportunity to see how students are interacting socially with their peers.
Even if you don’t get a chance to do them often, observations can bring a lot of insight about your student’s life at school outside of the counseling office.
How do you observe your students? Leave a comment I’d love to know!