I do not enjoy Field Day. Spending hours in the sun, under any circumstances, is not how I would choose to spend my time. (We won't even get into the fact that heat is one of my migraine triggers.) That being said, I know one of my favorite memories of this year was made yesterday, during Field Day.
Our school splits Field Day up by age so we are all able to fit onto one, big field. Fourth and fifth grades took to the field yesterday morning. Each class was sporting class colors, ours was white. First up in our rotation, volleyball.
Our P.E. teacher does a great job preparing the kids for the events. They have practiced all the games and know the rules and how to play. I asked my 22 students if they had been playing volleyball 11 on 11 or rotating through. They informed me they played seven to a side and rotated in and out.
With the class split by cubby numbers, they took to the court. I sat on the cement, in the shade, and cheered them on. There are almost no successful volleyball servers in my class. That said, there was not one negative or snide comment made throughout their 30 minutes of playing. They encouraged one another and both sides cheered when a serve actually went over the net.
When it was time for our next activity I gathered my class around me and bragged about what I had seen. I love this group of kids and I want them to realize they have something special going. I want them to be proud of how they work together. I want them to know that I notice. I concluded by pointing out that most activities for the day were about working together, teams.
The next activity was the one thing we would be doing that was all about the individual. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and asked them if they knew what I had. A few looked at me as if I had gone mad. I quickly added, "a stopwatch". They instantly 'got it' as they looked at the obstacle course before us. I let them know that we would go by reverse cubby order, told them they could sit on the grass with their water bottles, and got the first child to the starting line. The high school volunteer walked her through the course while I reminded everyone else they just had to watch as she would be their example.
"Ready… Set… Go!" I yelled. She took off over pads, high stepping tires, weaving through eight-foot poles, diving over mats, and the rest of the course until she arrived, panting, at the end. Meanwhile the entire class sat on the grass cheering her on and chanting her name. They continued to do this for every one of their classmates.
Thirteen students later it was one of my special needs student's turn. He had not been happy about Field Day. In fact, his iPad was on the field and if he participated he was able to sneak off for five minutes of use here and there. We had even contemplated moving him up in the rotation, but he was content watching his classmates overcome the obstacles. Now he stood at the starting line, ready. I yelled "go!" and he began the course.
What I hadn't noticed was that the entire class had come over to the starting line, encasing both sides of the horse shoe. As he began the class not only cheered, but they followed him through the course, always at his side. I stood, beaming, at this special group of students I get to work with. Maybe Field Day isn't all bad.