As the PE teacher again, I got to do the jumprope unit with the kids. Ever the entertainer, I had to develop a schtick to teach 1st and 2nd graders some key things, mostly what "aerobic" means and that we're helping them with activity for life.
Jump rope, how hard can it be? We have different lengths plus speed ropes as our regular ropes are encased in plastic tubes (the rope is protected when you're on a playground that way). Most of the kids in the 2nd grad and all the kids in the 1st grade use the small ropes, but kids are kids and you have to remind them that you have to step on the center of the rope and make sure the handles come to between your armpits and shoulders. So how do you tell them the obvious without talking down to them?
If you're me you run up to the rack and yell, "COOL! There's a red one here. I LOVE red!" as you grab the smallest jumprope you can. I let the kids giggle and yell things like "That's too small...." I looked at them puzzled and said, "No it's not! It's just fine, here I'll show you!" and then proceeded to jump having it get caught between my legs, nail me in the shins and calves.
Yes it was somewhat deliberate as well. ;)
I let the kids then instruct me how to pick a rope. Hanging the red one up the kids would yell things like, "Try a medium rope..." and then direct me to stand on it and measure the handles. I would then "try" it out to make sure it works. After jumping a few times, I would then go backwards and say, "Hey, it works in BOTH directions!" The kids would laugh and we could then pick our ropes from there.
For the finish up lesson, I had the kids put their hand on their bicep (after naming it) and try flexing back and forth to feel it. We did the same thing for the tricep and I then asked how do they know they're working their heart? The kids came up with things like: sweating, rosy cheeks, breathing hard/shorter breaths, taking their pulse. I then did something most of those kids don't think about, I told them I was a runner.
I had a kid read the sleeve of my hoodie and then loudly repeated the words, "I run like a girl." As they giggled I then said, "and I'm proud of it! When I run I wear a skirt, I wear cute tops and I am proud to say I run like a girl." In every class, at least one boy would find this amusing so I threw down a challenge: I challenged that kid to line up with me at the start of the Doyle's 5 miler in April and run the race with me.
Same result every time, they would gasp. I told them I'll be running the Ras Na Heirrann in a couple of weeks through the hills of Somerville and, even though I don't look like a runner, it's something I love to do. I don't have to win or run as fast as my son (who runs a 6:30 mile when he's not training), it's about going out and doing something that's good for my heart. I'm not embarrassed to be slow or not look the runners that win. I'm glad that I am out there running strong and my heart is glad I'm out there too.
I keep hoping that these kids, particularly the ones already casting themselves as "not good at...", take away that we can all be athletes because we line up at the starting line and give it our best. This morning I may need some ibuprofen for my shoulders after spending the better part of a day jump roping for the first time in years, but it was worth it. I hope to see some of the kids with the thicker glasses and rounder bodies to line up with me and, maybe, even beat me to the finish.