WORDS FROM W.W. August 24, 2016
My first day and a half of “guest teaching”…a.k.a. substitute teacher…got kicking this week in two different schools teaching physical education. What a hoot!
Are middle school students hilarious or what? Yes…yes…I know, some of them are obnoxious and will do anything for attention. Some of them would rather be sitting outside the Assistant Principal’s office waiting in one of the Death Row chairs than being in math class! Some of them…many of them…feel uncomfortable in their bodies at that point, from the ones who aren’t tall enough yet to ride the roller coasters to the ones who got double doses of height and size at early ages. But still, I receive so much writing material from being with middle school students!
“Coach Wolfe, are you teaching our P.E. class today?” asked the seventh grade boy with the high-pitched voice and a mouth full of braces.
“You got it!”
He smiled wide showing the extent of the work of his orthodontist. I wasn’t sure if he was excited that I was subbing, or excited that he had a guest teacher who was a P.E. class rookie!
Physical Education class first thing in the morning reveals who slept until the very last minutes before coming to school and who are the morning butterflies, already flapping their wings with energy. Monday’s lesson plans started with a period of kickball. We marched out to the field and established the ground rules: no spitting, no tripping one another, no acting like a jerk, no apathy…okay, strike that one! Some middle schoolers dress themselves in “uninterested” when they get up in the morning.
I divided the students into two teams trying to gauge talent levels and make the two squads as equal as possible. Note to self: At eight o’clock in the morning middle school students are not that interested in the teams being fair. They are much more interested in being social than being kickball phenomenons! They are much more interested in talking to one another than they are in answering questions posed by the teacher. Even outstanding plays that showed athleticism were met with indifference. Mistakes, however, were razzed and ridiculed.
It was picture day, that one day when each student gets their photo taken. Therefore, as the kickball game continued some students put the brakes on their interest and effort. They were the ones who were overly concerned about appearance. Looking good for their picture pose was more important than movement towards a kicked flyball. No one will remember the score of the first period kickball game, but that picture!…they will have tp live with that picture for the rest of their lives!
The questions started! “How much more time before we go in?” “Do I have to keep playing?” “Do I have to still kick, because I really don’t want to?”
When answers to questions did not fit into the desired responses that the student wanted to hear the excuses started rising to the surface. “I don’t feel very good. Can I sit out for a little while?” “My ankle hurts!” Amazingly the afflicted were quickly healed as class was coming to an end!
And just so I wasn’t getting the idea that these middle school students were different than the norm, the next day I was at a different school teaching another class of eighth graders in eight o’clock kickball and guess what? The only difference between the two experiences was that it wasn’t picture day at the second school!
Like I said, middle schoolers are hilarious!