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Career Questions

Q:  During faculty meetings or workshops, I like to knit.  I’ve been knitting for years, and I’m perfectly able to concentrate on what is being said while I’m knitting.  I am paying attention to the meeting, but it seems a shame not to be doing something useful at the same time.

After last week’s faculty meeting, my principal told me he doesn’t want me to knit during meetings.  I pointed out that other people grade papers while he’s talking, and I felt he was singling me out.  Any advice?

A:  You may be able to knit and listen at the same time, Madame Defarge, but it may appear to your principal that you’re not giving him your full attention.  And for many people, perception is reality. Madame Defarge  

Look at it this way:  Would you allow your students to make clay figures or draw racing cars or paint their toenails while you’re talking?  None of these activities requires their full attention either, but it still appears that they’re not listening respectfully.

Does the President want to look out at a sea of knitters during his State of the Union Address?  Is Meryl Streep knitting while she waits for her name to be called during the Academy Awards?  Is Ellen DeGeneres knitting while she judges who will be the next American Idol?

Well, you get my point.  But while you shouldn’t be knitting, people shouldn’t be grading papers either.  Your principal should apply the attention rule across the board.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.