Reflection on Quality over Quantity

We run an amazingly inclusive program at Putman called Intramurals For All.  The program is facilitated by two incredible teachers and a team of our intermediate students who basically plan and run the program.  The program runs 3 days a week over the lunch hour.

Last year was the first year of the program and I was very impressed with the number of kids who came out to each session (sessions are divided by grade level and/or gender groupings on each day).  Many staff also came out to cheer on the kids.  I spoke proudly whenever and wherever I could about the high rate of participation.

This year, thanks to the dedication of the two teachers, the program is running again.  I pop  in quite regularly.  One day I observed and commented to one of the teachers that the numbers were not what they once were (mind you the gym was still full of active kids).   I ranted and raved a little bit (as I tend to do) about how we could bring the numbers back up and how we need to set our sights high…maybe aim for 95-100% participation.

The supervising teacher (who is very patient with me when I start to rant and rave) waited for me to pause and then asked me to take a look at the kids who were participating.  She pointed to students who were regular participants in our competitive sports teams and she pointed to students who who aren’t.  She pointed at cross-grade, cross-class and cross-clique (hmmm…not sure if this is a term) socializing.  The quality of the interactions and the fact that the vehicle for these interactions are healthy co-operative games is a double bonus for the school community.

Far too often, we (or maybe I should say “I”)  consider data like participation levels as a sign of engagement and success. This quantitative data does not honour the qualitative data that I was presented with.  The intramurals program must be seen as a huge success because it is purposeful, focused, and it engages and empowers those students who need it most.  Take care, Brent


About ottawabrent

Principal of a Middle School in Ottawa, Ontario Canada
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One Response to Reflection on Quality over Quantity

  1. Erin Paynter says:

    Great post Brent. It reminds me of the many disussions I have had with my students when it comes to their Writer’s Workshop. Inevitably I hear “How long does it have to be?” and my question back to them is, “However long you need to (make your point, express yourself, etc.)” They stand there for a second or two with a blank look, and I explain the notion of quality vs quantity to them, and my belief that they, as a writer, are trustworthy enough to judge whether they’ve done what they need to do in as few or as many words, lines or pages as necessary. Why do we as educators impose the expectation that a convincing argument, or an eloquent narrative, or powerful poem must be _____________ long? It’s like to MasterCard commercial: Not having to meet some arbitrary minimum? Priceless!
    Thank Brent!

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