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Thoughts on my last day at my placement and "productivity"

et502's picture

My last day at my placement was surprisingly calm. The students had a short day at school, so they'd had a full 3 hours to relax before coming to Wordsmiths. What a difference that made in attitude and atmosphere! We were so much more effective; everyone was in a good mindset for working. I think that, by itself, was really telling of what students need in their daily routine: time to relax.

The student that I worked with, Bianca, said that she spent all 3 hours on her kindle, playing games. And when I think about it, I sometimes need a few hours to unwind--and I end up watching videos on Hulu or talking with friends. And that time is not "wasted"--though it's hard for me to think about it as useful, since so often, we talk about relaxation time as "unproductive."

In fact, I think those hours of "non-productivity" contribute to a sense of balance and, with reflection, internally-driven motivation to get things done when you do sit down to work. You need to hibernate, in order to create. It's unfair to expect students to produce constantly. I, personally, prefer intense work interspersed with calm/relaxation/physical activity. Longer days, working without pausing to relax, seem somehow less productive and more like busy work. I sense that some of the students at my placement feel the same way.

Anyway. Bianca picked a graphic novel that was entirely pictures for reading time. She agreed that if she "read" this book instead of one with written narration, she would work with me to make her own comic story. So after reading, we worked together to co-create super-characters of ourselves. We used a "rollercoaster" prompt to figure out our story-- you start with description, then move to an instigating event or problem; this builds until the climax, then ends with a resolution. We talked through it: I asked questions, and she came up with events for the story, which was about Earth Day and saving the earth. I was really impressed that she drew from the resources that were available to her: the rollercoaster model, and also a page with prompts for developing characters. Once we'd figured out the plot and resolution, I drew the pictures while she wrote everything down. We worked outside in the sunshine. It was a wonderful afternoon.


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