Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making kids sweat

It has been an active week, picking up running again but I've also been trying to cross train. Cross train is really athletic speak for "do something else so you don't overwork your running muscles."

But the big thing was covering for the Phys Ed teacher on Friday. That meant a bunch back-to-back periods of letting kids throw things at each other and, every so often, getting to throw things at kids. It's a great feeling to just make kids cut loose, sweat and have fun. This week it was the foam pins set up on either end of the gym and dump a bunch of yarn balls that look amazingly like tribbles into the middle of the floor.

I started each session reminding the kids "Whose house? MY HOUSE! Which means MY rules." I didn't care what the PE teacher normally had, they were my rules. I entertained them with the rules getting them to participate by telling them when to stop (at the center line); charging kids who I knew were good sports to ask if I could peg them deliberately (and the kids yelling "NO") and ended with: play hard, play safe, play fair and we'll (everybody) HAVE FUN!

Now here's an interesting observation, the kindergarden kids who cry over anything would crash into each other, get nailed in the face and everything else and jump up laughing. The first graders would complain about "it's not fair" and I would tell them "you'll live, get back in there your team needs you...." The surprise was the third graders - they dropped liked flies. I think six of them ended up in the nurse's office at some point.

At one point, I noticed a couple of kids trying to hide in the corner. I made one of them gather yarn balls to toss back into the field of play. The other one began playing at that point. That "Damn! I'm busted!" look on his face. The other one kept moving slowly, so I made him run 2 laps around the gym, which drove home the "oh, she's serious about the sweating thing..." and started playing for real.

During the 3rd grade session, a kid nailed me in the forehead with a tribble (as I refer to the yarn/fuzz/puff ball things) by accident. It hurt like anything and I yelled, "It's on baby!" I got him about 3 or 4 times and it became open season on me by the kids. We laughed and had a blast.

The kids had a great time and I ended up logging over 20K steps on the day and got to listen to the Beatles all day. I have no voice now, but it was a blast. I kept thinking that if PE had been like this when I was a kid, perhaps it would have been a lot easier to go to PE. It wasn't a class of fear and it wasn't a competition. It was just fun for everyone: from the girlie girls in dresses to the rough and trouble boys. It didn't matter if a kid was weak or strong, it was just run and scream and have fun.

At the beginning and end of each class, I talked to kids about offense and defense. If you only have offense, you score a lot but you get scored on as much as well. If you only have defense, you may be blocking being scored on, but you don't score either. It takes both - a good offense and a good defense.

Like anything I do in school, I hope my words and actions reach those handful of kids that need to be inspired. I remind them all the time that I AM a runner even if I don't look like one. That it's not always about "winning." I don't win the races I enter, but when I cross the finish line, I feel as if I were the first over the line. I know I'm making a difference when I see a couple of kids wearing pedometers. They're wearing them because I wear mine and answer their questions and show them how it works. Last year it was the group of kids wearing the Pokemon one that came with Nintendo DS game, this year a couple of kids started wearing the cheap New Balance ones from Target.

It's nice for the kids to know that I'm not just the woman standing in the front of the room declaring, "If I can't hear the music, you're too loud and we will move to silent work time...." That when I say I'm good with the right voices in the right places at the right times that I mean it.

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