How to Conduct Better Observations: A Practical Guide for Education Professionals


Event Description


The workshop places a special emphasis on combating deficit thinking by encouraging participants to recognize and rectify assumptions, biases, and evaluations in their observations. By adopting a strengths-based approach, educators can contribute to a positive learning environment and promote equity. This workshop aims to empower education professionals with practical tools to enhance their observation skills, particularly in recognizing and addressing deficit thinking. The observation protocol provided will guide participants in unpacking their observations of students, encouraging a deeper understanding and awareness of assumptions before making recommendations to support student learning.


The purpose of this 90-minute workshop is to equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to conduct better observations by avoiding deficit thinking and fostering a strengths-based approach. By practicing objective description, participants will learn to recognize and challenge assumptions, leading to more informed and equitable observations.

Why Training is Important:

Training is crucial for education professionals to refine their observation skills, ensuring that the assessments made are fair, unbiased, and conducive to positive learning outcomes. This workshop provides participants with a comprehensive observation protocol, helping them understand the importance of describing behaviors objectively and be mindful of where assumptions may influence interpretation and evaluation of students learning.

What Training will Provide Participants:

  • Skillsets:
    • Objective detailing of observable behaviors.
    • Differentiation between description, interpretation, and evaluation.
    • Checking assumptions and biases during the observation process.
    • Analysis of behaviors, considering alternative explanations.


  • Types of Resources
    • Observation and Analysis Form for systematic recording and reflection.
    • Guidelines for Distinguishing Description, Interpretation, and Evaluation.
    • Practical steps on using the observation protocol effectively.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will understand the concept of deficit thinking and how it can show up in learning observations (overt and nuanced ways)
  1. Participants will practice distinguishing between objective description, interpretation, and evaluation in their observations
  1. Learn One Approach for Implementing Systematic Observation and Analysis


Alyson Kaneshiro, EdD

Alyson Kaneshiro, Ed.D, is an educator based in the Bay Area. Currently serving as the Bay Area Regional SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Facilitator, she also holds the position of Associate Director of Learning Services at Urban School of San Francisco. Additionally, Alyson offers consulting and coaching services through her private practice, Learning Specialist LLC. Her extensive experience includes teaching as an adjunct professor in the Master of Arts Special Education Program at the University of San Francisco, conducting action research in Response to Intervention practices, and working in inclusive education and special education compliance at the Hawai’i Department of Education. With a rich educational background spanning 20 years, Alyson is passionate about designing equitable student support systems that prioritize relationships and compassionate care.

April 5, 2024
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