- Summer Break: A Chance to Rejuvenate You! - June 18, 2013
- Ability Grouping in Physical Education? - May 24, 2013
- Testing Time is Here in Physical Education Too! - April 17, 2013
- The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat - March 26, 2013
- The Role of Physical Activity in the School Day - March 11, 2013
- Classroom Activity Breaks – Reap the Benefits! - February 26, 2013
This is a tough time of year for all teachers, not just Physical Education teachers. The winter months seem to drag on. The calendar says it is Spring, but the weather doesn’t feel like it. Children have been in our classes for over half the year and we all know each other’s patterns. “Recess” time may be non-existent in some areas due to cold, snow, or other factors. Is it Spring Break yet? Testing time is just around the corner and we wonder if our students will be able to make the grade.
Personally, I was burdened with working three sessions of the Georgia State Gymnastics meet on top of all the other school and life issues. I have been dreading it since signing up, but my daughters are gymnasts, so we all have to take our turns working at the various meets the gym hosts. Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning…….I would rather be anywhere, especially, when my own kids are not in this competition.
My first two shifts went without incident and I looked forward to the same on Sunday. The usual things happened like coaches disputing warm-up times, judges conferencing over points, and everyone taking video with phones and iPads. Little did I know, as I timed the different parts of the bar rotations, that the last rotation of my last shift would change my attitude for our last grading period of the school year.
As the last rotation neared completion, one of the gymnasts stepped up for her routine. I remembered her struggling through warm-ups. She could not seem to get her dismount and finish correctly. Her coaches had “that look” on their faces---she hasn’t done this and can’t do this. They maintained a positive outlook and did what they could to keep her spirits up. The first part of the routine went well and she neared the finish. A jump to the high bar, a few spins, and then a flip to the landing were left to complete her turn. The jump was not the problem and she grabbed the bar. In warm-ups, she repeatedly tried to swing around the high bar, but eventually would get stuck in mid air and drop to the floor. I never saw her get to the flip. As she started the circle, she got to the sticking point looking down at the bar and holding on with white knuckles. One coach jumped in to spot her as she was suspended in air with her feet above her. The next second seemed like ten. I watched in what seemed like slow motion, as she CONTINUED TO SWING! Her coach was within inches of grabbing her, but quickly backed away. Two swings and into the flip dismount---her coach jumped in to spot it again. I am not sure she ever had the chance to practice it. As she landed on two feet without the aid of her coach, the looks on the faces of everyone competing, coaching, judging, and watching were priceless. The gymnast, overcome with joy and emotion, leaped into her coach’s arms and he couldn’t contain his happiness either! Judges, opposing coaches, competitors, and I could not shield our smiles of joy for her either. I spoke with the coach at the conclusion of the event. We agreed that any coach treasures that feeling when their athlete has success. There is nothing to replace it.
This is the joy we need to carry into our classrooms every day, especially at this difficult time of the year. We all feel the frustration of students not able to improve themselves during the year, no matter our grade or subject taught. The students sense it, too. The agony of defeat seems to occur more than the thrill of victory. We can’t give up on our students, however. We have to stick by them. As one former principal told our staff, “The parents are sending us the best they have.” Keep plugging away----try a new strategy, explain a concept a different way, or give them a new way to examine a standard. At some point over the next few weeks, one of more of your students will teeter upside down on that high bar. Be ready to jump in and spot them, if they need it. Maybe they will need a simple pat on the back or smile of reassurance, rather than you catching their fall. But above all, be ready to celebrate it when they finally stick the landing. That’s the moment for both of you to treasure. It is part of what keeps us going to work every day!