The very nature of participant-observation as a technique makes it all but
impossible for the observer as she participates to take detailed notes about
the event in the real time of the occurence of the event. The most that can
be done, in most cases, is to "scratch" down words or phrases that, hopefully,
will jog the memory when, later, one writes down a fuller, narrative, account
of the event.
The following is the full set of scratch notes from two hours in a Manhattan
alternative high school. I was following the principal around and jotting
down a few words here and there on a yellow pad.
Later in the day I used these notes to write
narrative field notes that you should consult
to compare. I also collected some documents, particularly the
guide for NYC high schools/
October 4, 1996