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

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Risk and Reflection/Rest and Relaxation

Yin Yang

This thought/image came to me as I was reflecting on the ways we stay balanced and healthy in both mind and spirit in our schools.  On the one hand, it is very important to be able to decompress  and relax at the end of a day.  The same is also true for those times in the classroom or in the staff room when we stop and simply enjoy the company of others.  Students and staff alike need these times.

The second R and R, Risk and Reflection, represents that wonderful cycle of growth that occurs in staff and students when they are operating outside of their safety zone.  When coupled with a strong sense of passion, the growth and learning that happens can be startling.  Think of the leap of faith that a student takes when they volunteer to lead an activity or perform at a school talent show.  There is no turning back from these experiences and when reflection is a part of the cycle, growth and learning almost always follow.

As adults in the field of learning, we need to promote and model a balance of both rest and relaxation, and risk and reflection.  Take care, Brent

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