Just a little while ago, our fifth grade teacher invited our class to go outside with some of her students to get some sun, enjoy the beautiful weather, and just be sixth graders. Who are we to turn down an invitation like this?
It’s a gorgeous day, the kids had a blast and I jumped right into the middle of them, playing a basketball game called Knockout. We played a couple of rounds, then the fifth graders went inside. So of course, the conversation (begging) turned to:
Class: “PLLEEESSEE can we stay outside for a little while longer??”
Me: *sigh* “Ok.”
So we played a little more and they trashed talked at me and I gave it right back to them. I cheered when someone made a basket and they cheered when they got me out (little buggers!). We came back inside and there was smiling and laughing and “wow that was awesome” going all over the place.
It struck me, I’ve not played with this class. For a long time, I’d take one recess a week to go outside and play football, four square, basketball, or some kind of game with my students. As my time has grown more and more crunched, as more and more is expected of us with less and less resources given, I’ve lost touch with that. I don’t take that time anymore to make those kinds of connections outside of the classroom. And why? For what? Test scores? Grading papers? What will they remember about me? That I was able to hand back papers? That they had a B in math? No, they will remember the stuff that has nothing to do with academics, their teacher laughing and high fiving them. That’s what memories are made of, seeing the human side of your teacher.
Four years ago, I got two different thank you notes from seniors, both of whom mentioned the times that I played basketball against them as some of the highlights of their sixth grade year. As I watched these kids come in, flush, happy, and smiling, what am I thinking NOT doing this?? The relationships built in those 30 minutes a week are long lasting for students who don’t always have a lot going for them.
I’m making the time now, before it’s too late. I want this class to know they are more than numbers, data to be gone through, they are my students, and more so because I’ve been with them for two years. I want them to know that their teacher cares in ways that don’t include books, homework, and writing correct sentences. I pride myself on being able to build relationships, connections with my classes. It’s time to give that more than lip service.
And why not? Sometimes, you just need to play. 🙂