Monday, April 20, 2009

Action Doesn’t Mean Production

I saw a great quote in the article Activity versus productivity in the use of technology in the classroom from Kobus van Wyk by kvanwyk. He used the quote,

“Never confuse activity with productivity. You can be busy without a purpose, but what’s the point? - Rick Warren”

This reminded me of a time when I rode a bicycle on a muddy patch. I was peddling really hard and my wheels were spinning but I was getting nowhere. It also brought back a memory of going to a Mexican restaurant with some friends. After waiting about 30 minutes for our food, we noticed that there were a lot of servers putting lots of chips and salsa on tables but no food was coming out of the kitchen. In both instances there was a lot of activity but very little productivity.

I think this quote applies to administrators, teachers, students, and parents and we need to really take this to heart. So, I decided to write a little note to each.

Dear Administrators –
*Please don’t ask me to fill out reports when you can get the information right off of the computer.
*Please don’t ask me to attend a meeting to get information that could have been shared in an email, a wiki, or a blogpost.
*Please don’t make me in charge of something just to make me feel good.
*Please don’t ask us to do something and then not follow through or provide support so that we just forget about it later.

Dear Teachers –
*Please don’t give worksheets to kids just to keep them busy so you can get other things done (they really know what you are doing).
*Please don’t give them assignments that don’t have any relevance to real life.
*Please don’t give them busy work to do with the substitute because the kids usually don’t do it and it causes behavior problems. (the subs hate this as much as the students.)
*Please don’t go to meetings without sharing ideas/giving input/ sharing the work load and expect to accomplish anything.

Dear Students –
*Please don’t think that cleaning out your book bag shows the teacher that you are really trying to pass the class.
*Please don’t think that by drawing, doodling, writing notes to friends constitutes “doing your work.”
*Please don’t talk about the latest TV shows/movies/gossip in small groups and think that the group work will get done all by itself.

Dear Parents-
*Please don’t write me notes and ask me to work with your child on something specific without checking that your child is also doing what is necessary to meet me halfway.
*Please don’t send a note asking me to contact you and then not give correct contact information or go out of town for 2 weeks.
*Please don’t ask to set up a meeting to discuss your child and then forget about showing up.
*Please don’t come to a meeting to discuss your child and then only speak about your hard day, your other children, your problems and anything else but your child.

I admit that I like to see action but only if it results in production of some sort. I am not a big fan of busy work just for the sake of doing something. This helps in making the classroom a successful environment.

What would you like to put in any of these letters? Feel free to add them in the comments below.

Original image: 'SPLASH!' by: Breno Peck


Sharon Elin said...

Wonderful suggestions for administrators, teachers, students, and parents! I wish you could distribute this to them all. Even better, I wish they would read and follow the advice! Thanks for posting this list of time-wasters.

Kvan Wyk said...

Thank you for taking this idea further. Your posting takes the concept to a new level.

It amazes me how we, sitting on different continents, different hemisphers, having never met in person, could have such complimentary and supplementary views. The power of the cyberspace and social networks, making such connections possible, is great!

loonyhiker said...

Sharon: Maybe some will read them and take them to heart? :) Or they will think - this isn't me! (when it really is).

loonyhiker said...

KvanWyk: People around the world are not really much different, are they? Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

thank you for the very inspired entry!

gales said...

This is perfect, especially at the end of the year, when we are all reflecting upon the year and our practice. We can all improve...teachers, administrators, parents...

Love your blog!

loonyhiker said...

Gale: Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

Elona Hartjes said...

Useful suggestions that I'm going to share with colleagues.

loonyhiker said...

@Elona Glad you liked this. Thanks for sharing it with others.