Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Talking About the Intangibles and the NFL Draft

Last weekend I spent hours watching the NFL draft with my husband who was a little obsessed about the players his favorite team would draft. He waited anxiously as each pick was announced and anticipated who would be his team's next choice. He studied potential players and predicted who might be the best choice for his team.

As I watched all three days of the draft, I began to notice just how much data was collected on players. There were videos to watch. There were statistics on the skills of each player. Speed. Accuracy. Performance.

Big hands...
Long arms...
Powerful upper body... 
High volume ball carrier...
Powerful runner... 
Competitive... 
Fine technique... 
High level production...

And there were stories. Each potential candidate had a profile that went well beyond the measurable data that was amassed. The announcers began to talk about the intangibles. There were stories about losses and hardships, injuries, challenges and accomplishments.

Coming off an injury...
Lost his mother but able to overcome it...
Hard working...
Off the field issues...
Lunch pail, blue collar guy...
Motivated...
Most valuable player...
Somewhat worrisome... 
Kid will work hard... 
Invest in the draftee's future...
Accept the player with all of his strengths and weaknesses...

We don't draft the kids into our classrooms (thank goodness!). Each year we welcome a new set of students and begin to understand who they are as learners. It takes time but we slowly and deliberately observe and listen. We review previous data on the student. We assess some skills to discover where our teaching should begin. 

While this data collected on students is important and can tell us about the child as a learner, there is so much more to know. These are the things that are difficult to measure. We come by them in our natural interactions with each child. We come to understand as we watch each child interact with others. We take note of what is difficult and what comes easy for them. We listen to their stories that unfold each day in our classrooms. These are the stories that lead the way to a deep understanding that informs the decisions we make in our teaching. 

As we come to the end of the school year, we are asked to collect all the data we have on a child so it can be preserved for next year's teacher to consider. I wish there was a way to archive all the intangibles we have learned about each child. There is richness and truth in what we have come to know about the children with whom we have spent our days in the classroom. Let's talk about those intangibles and value what we have come to know.

Check out more Slice of Life writing at www.twowritingteachers.org !



7 comments:

Mary Ann Reilly said...

It is the intangibles that so often matter the most.
I photograph. It is one way I capture more than words can say.

Tara Smith said...

What a great perspective on what counts the most in our teaching year - the intangibles.

Teachers for Teachers said...

I love the idea of intangibles -- some districts begin data meetings sharing stories about the student. It is really powerful to get who they are in the air before we begin to talk about who they are in terms of skills and scores. It is an authentic way to triangulate the data. Thank you for this important reminder.
Clare

Rose Cappelli said...

I think it all boils down to the power of story. We learn so much about each other from the stories we share. Thanks for this important reminder that not everything about a child is found in data. Intangibles matter.

Carol Varsalona said...

I really like how you moved into this post from the sports' angle to the students.

Cheriee Weichel said...

I agree with Carol. I thought it was brilliant how you moved from the sports evaluation to the students. I thought of that quote, Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted. I teach in a multiage school so we know our kids well, but only pass on a few at a time. We have long meetings where receiving teachers meet with teachers who are passing students on. That is when what can't be counted gets its say.

Maria said...

"Let's talk about those intangibles and value what we have come to know." I always have a difficult time as my students go to middle school and the data that precedes them without a conversation. Beautiful post and and advice.