Posted tagged ‘middle school physical education’

The ‘What Ifs’ of Sixth Graders

September 8, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        September 8, 2018

                      

Squirrels were named after sixth graders! When you’re around sixth graders for very long you just automatically blurt it out. “You’re squirrelly!” And then someone saw a furry looking hyperactive, confused critter climbing the tree in their front yard and he said, “Wow! I’m not sure what that thing is but it’s as squirrelly as a sixth grader so I’m going to call it a squirrel!”

Okay! It probably didn’t happen that way, but it’s a good story, and if you’ve been around sixth graders for very long you understand how plausible the story sounds.

Yesterday I was teaching sixth grade physical education. It’s kind of like filling thirty balloons with air and letting them go all at the same time.

We were teaching the students a new game, which was not complicated to understand. It involved trying to get all of the people on one team to the other end of the field without having the flags they wore around their waists pulled by someone from the other team. 

Simple, right? 

The other teacher I was partnered with that day explained the game thoroughly and then said the words that she wished she could take back, the words that cause body tremors and sweating. 

“Are there any questions?” Hands shot up in the air like 4th of July bottle rockets.

“What if…someone doesn’t mean to fall, but he does? Does that mean he’s frozen until he gets freed by one of his teammates?”

“Yes.”

A future lawyer. “What if…the person who falls has been tripped, pushed, or in a collision that results in his tumble? Would he be held liable for the consequences of the action, or would you take into consideration extenuating circumstances…AND, is there an appeal process in place for the defendant?”

My teaching colleague has a blank stare for a moment. “We will consider each action individually.” The student starts to ask a followup question, but my colleague ignores her and looks at the body attached to another raised hand.

“What if…I’m running down the field and my flag falls off just because? Can I just put it back on? You know…like the wind just blows it off of me, because that wouldn’t be fair!”

“If your flag falls off because of the wind or as the result of some other act of nature you can put it back on and resume the game.”

The future attorney is raising her hand and waving it wildly as she considers her case before the Court of Sixth Grade PE Appeals. The teacher contines to ignore her, and turns her attention to a squirrel sitting on the top row of the bleachers.

“What if…someone calls my name and when I look to see who said my name a different person from the other team runs by and pulls my flag off?”

“Then you are frozen until a teammate frees you.”

“Ahhh!” he responds with a look of agony.

Redheaded girl with a bored look wishing she was in math class. “Do we have to play?”

“Yes.”

Blonde boy who has a tendency to want to always say things that makes his other squirrelly classmates giggle. “What if…someone’s shorts rip right down the middle and their underwear is showing?” Giggles from the gathered.

“If that happens they will be out for the rest of the game.”

“That’s not fair!”

“By the time they go back inside, change shorts, and come back out again, our class period will be over.”

Future prosecutor’s hand going berserk. 

“Is this question relevant?”

“Yes, absolutely!”

“Okay! Last question because we aren’t going to have that much time to actually play the game.”

“I’m not throwing any accusations or inferring that a certain person, who will remain anonymous, would do this, BUT…what if someone from the other team made some offensive remarks about another person in the course of game play? Would that be grounds for, so to speak, legal action?”

My colleague looks at her with a facial expression that communicates “No comment!’

“Okay! Mr. Wolfe’s class is red and my class is yellow! Let’s play!”

And the squirrels rush the field to play the game for the one reason we’ve planned it for. That they will run around like crazy for the next fifteen minutes!

The Diary of a Middle School PE Teacher

December 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           December 3, 2016

                                

MONDAY

Dear Diary,

This is archery week for the physical education classes! It is one of the weeks during the year when I have a “safe word” that I share with the other teachers. That is, I fear the temptation to take one of the bows and arrows and use it in a way that would cause me to end up on the nightly news…nation-wide!…might overtake my common sense. So I have a safe word to say to the other teachers around me that will keep me out of jail, and a future career as an incarcerated librarian!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

My second period class of 8th Graders arrived already overdosed on “annoying.” Thank God they are not in one of the archery classes! The assignment for their class was to run/walk for 30 minutes around the track. It’s amazing how students who have taken “annoying steroids” slow down when they are asked to run/walk for 30 minutes. Some of them made 4 laps! That’s a mile in a half-hour! That’s like a slow record!

I shot free throws with a sixth grader before one of our classes began. I made 23 in a row. He looked at me like I was a much older version of Steph Curry. How long would his amazement last?

TUESDAY

My first two classes of 8th graders were retesting a few strengthening exercises, like pull-ups, doing a plank, and something called a “wall sit” where they sit against a wall as if there is a chair underneath them. Some of them were done doing all three exercises in ten minutes. Did I say that the longer it takes someone the better? On the other hand, one young lady did a wall sit for a solid hour. I had to go and inform her math teacher that she would be late because she was still sitting. It’s amazing how some students will push themselves, while others are much more proficient at pushing the patience of the teacher!

Archery safe word: Big Bro!

No one died in archery today. The only wounds were to the pride of a number of students who couldn’t shoot it into the ocean!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

My sixth grade buddy told a few others about my free throw shooting, so I had a little flock of his classmates watching me shoot free throws before class. I only made 16 in a row today, but they were still amazed. It is much easier to amaze sixth graders than it is eighth graders!

A seventh grade girl came to me before class wearing cowboy boots. “Do you think I can run in these today?” I gave her the “Are you serious?” look.

WEDNESDAY

Hump Day in a week where the temperature has continued to dip. My first two 8th grade classes were scheduled to go outside for some “jump rope conditioning”. I was all set, but then they started whining about the fact that with the wind chill the temperature was six degrees. I reminded them of all the games that had been played over the years at “The Frozen Tundra” in Green Bay. When a few of the students asked me where in Colorado Green Bay is located I knew it was a lost cause.

Brain Light Bulb On! Single digit wind chill days are a good threat in the curing of annoying students. Think of it as being like weather-related Castor Oil!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

The boy’s locker room smells like a Port-a-Potty! I walk through it several times a day to wake myself up! It is a multi-sensory experience!

THURSDAY

Two new sixth grade students came into my classes today. They looked like they were being led to their execution. I calmed them down and had everyone say hi to them. Being a new student in school on December 1 is a hard road to walk. They stick out like a sore thumb, because everyone else has their official P.E. shirt and shorts on…and they don’t. We hooked each one of them up with a couple of students who have the gift of acceptance and hospitality. These are students who did not heap “annoying” on to their plates when they went through the character traits buffet line.

The last day of archery and no one died! Safe word once again is “Big Bro!”

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

The sixth grade boy, who was amazed on Monday by my free throw shooting, came up to me and said, “Coach, I wore this for you!” He had a “Steph Curry” jersey on underneath his official P.E. shirt. I was flattered and then made 30 in a row before class started.

In my role as P.E. teacher I look to bring in other academic disciplines…such as geography! Today I had the sixth grade classes line up in order of where they were born…close to Colorado Springs at one end of the line and extending out from there according to distance away. When I got to the end of the line and two students born in North Dakota were on the other side of the student who was born in Hawaii we had a little geography lesson. “I know that North Dakota seems like it’s a world away, but Hawaii is about half an ocean further!”

At the end of the day we took down the archery range and breathed a sigh of relief!

FRIDAY

Last day of the week! Six classes of endurance to reach the finish line! A day of dodgeball and keeping control of the chaos. There is something about sixth graders on Fridays! They start popping like popcorn, energy and excitement springing to the surface. They are prone to lose all perspective, like inmates in the prison yard who might start rioting at any moment. One boy throws a volleyball at another student’s head, another student kicks a soccer ball into an a group of classmates that are just standing there. Ice packs are ready for distribution. Fridays are the best reason for there to be a 4-day school week!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks!

The afternoon’s highlight was a young lady in one the seventh grade classes who nailed a few of the boys in dodgeball with pinpoint accuracy. By the end of the class period boys were running from her as she approached the line with one of the dodgeballs. Awesome!

At 3:00 I checked out! It was a good week, and I was looking forward to a Saturday lunch that did not include peanut butter, honey, and carrot sticks!