Today was Junior Olympics. As coach of the volleyball team, there is always a lot of work to be put in. Choose the right players, work with them to build their skills, and try to get them to gel as a team. Not an easy task, but always fun to watch them through the end. This year we started with 7 out of 12 players who were new to the team. 6 of those had never played volleyball before.
After two months of practices, it was finally game day. They definitely had some strengths and weaknesses. We found out we were playing first thing in the morning. Our first three games, we won without a lot of effort. Our spirits were high. After a break, we played our next three games. They were a much tougher team (who by the way ended up winning the whole day!). We did our best and kept the games close, but lost. The kids’ spirits dropped. Because of the way the games are played, we had about a three hour break before our last games of the day.
The kids relaxed, did some practices, and were mostly ready to play again. However, they still weren’t in the best of moods. They were tired, bored, and down due to our loses. As the final game times came closer, our other coach decided they needed a little incentive. If they could keep the ball off the ground for more than 20 hits in a row, they could have a piece of candy. (Yes, sometimes teachers resort to bribery!) They took a few turns to get there, but they did. If they could do it again, they would get another. Not only did they do it again, but they figured out how to talk to each other and managed to hit it 100 times in a row! Suddenly they were having fun again!
As we went into what would be our last two games, I reminded them of the fun they were having when they hit it 100 times. Smiles beamed all around. First game in the finals, they had fun. They played as a team and won. Second game, we had to work harder for the points, but they continued to have fun. The team ended up winning the silver division (7th place overall in the district). Pretty good for a team that had so many brand new players.
Today reminded me of my classroom. When the students are having fun, they do better. They learn more. They remember what they did that day when their parents ask at home. When the fun stops, no one does well. No, school can’t be fun all of the time. Life doesn’t work that way. But can’t we, as teachers, bring as much fun into the classroom as we can? Students deserve it. We deserve it.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching