Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Knew I'd Get The Hang of It

It's been a week since I started teaching summer school, and as of yesterday I was finally able to have an entire day of not being grumpy, yell at anyone, and actually have a great time.

All morning long the kids were quiet, they worked hard, and they seemed to enjoy what they were building.  I gave them the opportunity to work with whoever they wanted...which they had been doing, but I offered them up the chance to change partners so that they got the chance to work with someone else.

They all seemed to really enjoy themselves...and that's what it should be all about.

The area I seemed to be having the biggest problems was the afternoons.  That's when I have Jr. High kids.  The first couple of days were rough because they wanted to act like they were too cool for school, and not do anything that I asked them to do.  But, that went away pretty quickly when they heard how loud my voice can actually get.

The back talking and sassing went away super fast, but I was still feeling like the kids dreaded coming to my class.  They whined and moaned about having to go outside, and it was obvious that while we were out there they just weren't having a good time.

I don't want kids feeling that way when they come to me.  I want them to leave feeling like they've had a good time, that it was a fun 30 minutes, and that I'm not just a teacher that has a loud voice and makes everyone go outside in the heat.

So, during recess yesterday, I decided to watch the Jr. High kids...see what they enjoyed doing while they were outside.  

I wasn't surprised to see most of the girls strewn around the playground in small groups either laying out in the sun, or hiding from it in the shade.  They all had their earphones in and were singing and talking and laughing.

But the boys?  Half of them were either playing football and the other half were playing basketball.  

Which gave me an idea.

When my first Jr. High class came to me, I had the opportunity to try out my idea.  They are, by far, the  roughest bunch of kids out of all the Jr. High classes... I figured if my plan was going to backfire miserably, it would be with the first group.

I told them all that I'd watched them during recess and observed what it seemed they enjoyed doing.  I told them that even though I was supposed to be teaching them how to play frisbee golf, there were other games that could help teach frisbee skills, team work, and just enjoying a game of frisbee.

And that game?  Frisbee Football.

I totally pulled it out of my behind, but I combined the rules from both basketball and football in to the game.  They had to form two teams, and the object of the game was to get the frisbee from one end of the field to the other.  Unlike football, they weren't allowed to move once they had the frisbee...and pivot as in basketball.  I allowed the opportunity to tackle, but only of the person holding the frisbee..and if the frisbee holder was smart, they wouldn't hold the frisbee long enough to be tackled.

I'll admit.  I was nervous going out.  These kids are all WAY bigger than me.  If things got out of hand, I'd have to be the one to break it up...and that didn't sound too appealing.  I was even more nervous when several of the girls actually wanted to play.  

We got outside.  We divided in to teams.  And the game began.

The 20 minutes we had to play seemed to fly by.  I've never seen these kids laugh so much in the whole time they've been coming to me. It was so comical to see the frisbee fly, someone catch it, and the look of terror on their face as the entire other team came charging towards them... causing them to through the frisbee as hard and as fast as they could to someone else.

And I was right in the middle of all of it.  I wasn't about to sit on the sidelines and missing out on all the fun...I got right in there with them and tackled anyone that held the frisbee too long.

By the time the class left, they were begging me to let them play it again the next day.  And then the next class came out and it was the same thing.  And then the next.

By mid-afternoon, the two classes I'd had previously were outside we all joined together for a class vs. class match.  I got a little nervous again that it would get a little out of hand, and the big boys would get a little too rough... but I didn't have to worry.  Everyone had a really good time, laughed, and if they did knock anyone down - helped them right back up to continue the game.

One kid actually got the chance to tackle me down to the ground... to the shock and horror of some of the boys on my team.  While others waited to see if I got mad, I laughed, got up and told them that was what the game was about.  I think my "cool meter" shot up about 100 points.  Of course, the shocked and not very happy boys on my team wasn't taking any of that...and took the first opportunity they could to get revenge on my slayer.  That felt pretty good, too, knowing that these kids had my back if anyone tried to mess with me.  HA!

Once the end of the day drew near, word had spread like wildfire down the Jr. High hallway what was going on in my class, and I had kids that hadn't yet had my class come up to me and ask me if it was true that I was not only letting kids play frisbee football - but that I was joining in for the game.  

I'll admit it, I felt totally awesome yesterday.  I felt like each kid left enjoying what they'd done, and that they couldn't wait to be back in my class.  I received several high-fives and "See you tomorrow, Miss!" from kids that normally just glare at me or ignore me.

Now, I just have to hope and pray that I don't get in trouble for letting the kids play a semi-contact sport... because I have a feeling it's how I'm going to spend the rest of summer school in my afternoon classes.

But, I totally enjoyed it... and can't wait to get back there today!



  1. Such a smart teacher -- You observed, you analyzed your observation, you synthesized, you took a risk, and you evaluated. If every teacher could or would engage in higher level thinking like that, just imagine how much all children would love school! Kudos to you!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. That really means a lot to me. I'm definitely taking a couple of risks doing what I'm doing - but I think it's worth the risk. I need to feel like what I'm teaching is beneficial - and not just to me. HA!


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