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ROWE, ROWE, ROWE your boat…at work but not at school. ROWE stands for Results Only Work Environment. Long story short: let people work how they want, when they want. Only measure the results. Performance and morale improve.
There workers can come in at four or leave at noon, or head for the movies in the middle of the day, or not even show up at all. It’s the work that matters, not the method. And, not incidentally, both output and job satisfaction have jumped wherever ROWE is tried.
How can we use Results-Only to get our kids to perform?
The bottom line for teachers and parents is that they need to get cooperation from 1-150 kids on tasks that, lets be honest, often aren’t interesting to them. If the child has ADD or a Learning Disability, the challenge is even greater.
Are our schools results oriented?
With few exceptions, in my opinion, No. This does vary from school to school and teacher to teacher, but overall I think that the atmosphere in America’s classrooms (big generalization here) is one in which students are evaluated on a mixed curriculum of education and discipline. In other words, the student’s grade is determined by both his or her mastery of the material and by how well he or she fits into the stereotypical pigeon-hole of a “good student”.
It is not enough for a student to learn the curriculum. He or she must also meet the teacher’s expectations of behavior and discipline or their grades will suffer. Which means that their collegiate futures are at risk. Which means their behavior in and around the classroom will in part determine their future.
Why is this bad? In my opinion, it is appropriate to evaluate behaviors, rule-following, conscientiousness and sociability. However, this evaluation needs to be made separate from an academic evaluation. Not merely out of fairness but because a student’s behavior does not reflect his or her mastery of the material. If the student has mastered the curriculum, and demonstrates that mastery on assessments, then his or her grade should reflect that mastery.
Further, teachers evaluate behavior based on their biased backgrounds. Students with different backgrounds are unfairly penalized. Since most teachers are middle-class, poor students suffer.
What do I mean? I mean that the student should not be penalized because he or she did not complete a non-assessment assignment (busy-work) or was disruptive in the classroom, or had a poor attendance record. Notice that each of these items are strongly correlated with poverty and a low socio-economic status. They also fit the profile of kids with Learning Disabilities.
In my opinion, when teachers mix assessment grades with behavior grades, they are doing these kids a major disservice. I am especially thinking of my LD students. These kids’ futures are already at risk. If they are graduating on a regular diploma, and most are, then they need every point they can get on their GPA. When I go into an Individualized Education Planning (IEP) meeting for a student, and I see that his assessment grades are A’s, B’s and C’s but his report card is full of C’s, D’s and F’s I conclude that the student’s needs are not being met. Isn’t it obvious? He can ace the exam, but has seven zeros for homework assignments…he’s learned the material. Even more, he did it without doing the homework. For him, the homework was really just busy work.
The goal of our schools should not be to pump out mass-produced cookie-cutter worker.
Corporate America is realizing that if you let good people make choices about how and when to work, everybody wins. Lets take that lesson home and into the classroom. Recognize that people have different learning styles and preferences and that the goal of our schools should not be to pump out mass-produced cookie-cutter workers.
Teachers: create multiple routes to success. Keep behavior and academic evaluations separate.
Parents: realize that your kid needs breaks. LD and ADD kids need LOTS of breaks. Split their homework session in two. Have a physical activity planned for in between.
One last quick story: a student of mine often comes in completely brain-fried. You know, that horrible feeling that you can’t even spell your own name right…for no reason! Once I realize we are up against the wall we go for a ten-minute walk and talk about video games. This lifts the mind-fog and learning can begin again.