Ah. Field Day.
For those of you, like me, that didn't have field days when you were a kid they are a day, usually towards the end of school, where the kids get to go outside and do events such as kickball, and tug of war, relay races and the like. Ours includes a volleyball tournament and speed skating (skating across the gym floor on dust mops) in the gym while we wait for the grass to dry out in the morning, and then a pretty big variety of events outside for the rest of the day. The PE Department really knocks themselves out with this every year. The kids usually get a free piece of pizza and a bottle of water, courtesy of the PTO, and then they can spend money and buy snow cones, pixie sticks, more drinks, and other snacks. Beats sitting in a classroom no matter how you slice it.
The kids talk about field day all spring so you think it would be a piece of cake to get enough teams together so we could have a half-way decent competition.
These kids all want to sign up for volleyball, tug of war, and kickball and that's it. Most of them won't even sign up for those three and simply want to spend the whole time just being outside doing nothing (can't say that I blame them, truth be told). However, the whole point of field day is to compete against the other 7th grade team (it was more fun when we had three teams, rather than just two), to see who can claim bragging rights as Field Day Champions! Every year it seems that we try to come up with a different plan in the hopes of generating more sign ups, and every year it's a battle. It's also a battle, once we're outside, to try to round up kids who signed up for an event and then can't be found. I absolutely detest trying to find and round up the kids. I'm not alone. Most of us can't stand field day for that very reason.
So this year Mrs. Eagle (who's the other 7th grade team leader) and I posted the event lists, with the spaces to sign up in our team hallways and told the kids to sign up. What ensued was another nightmare. Kids were crossing out each other's names (nice, aren't they), whiting out other kids' names, not signing up for some events, and then too many signing up for others.
On Monday afternoon Mrs. Eagle and I took the lists down and tried to come up with the team lists for each event. We were comparing lists and moaning about the fact that the kids weren't signing up and wondering whether or not we could cancel the whole thing due to lack of interest (we actually had the PE coaches tell the kids that it was a possibility which did spur a few more sign ups), when I had an epiphany.
"I don't know about you, but I'm done trying to wrangle these kids into participating," I said. "And I'm done, trying to round kids up for events once we're out there."
"Agreed," said Mrs. Eagle.
"So what do you think about turning it over to the kids? Pick a team captain for each team, give them the list, and tell them that they have to fill out the rest of the team and it's their responsibility to get the kids there for the events."
"It's their field day," she said. "Why not put them a little bit more in charge?"
So that's what we did. We went through the lists for the various events, selected kids we could trust and who could get the job done, made them captains, and turned it over to them. I sent out an email to all my teachers requesting to see those kids at the beginning of first period to tell them what was up. I sat them down, gave them each a copy of their team, told them it was their responsibility to fill up their roster and to get their teammates there for the event. I told them if they didn't have enough people to field a team, they were encouraged to grab spectators and draft them.
And off they went.
By the end of the day, they'd filled their rosters. By Wednesday, which was field day, some of my captains reported a waiting list for kids who wanted to be on the teams. And this for events that no one signed up for!
Field Day was Wednesday. The weather was PERFECT. Seriously. The absolute best weather for a Field Day - ever. (Some of you may remember the year we had the tornado warning and spent Field Day in a hallway.) It wasn't too hot. It wasn't humid. It wasn't too cold. It was sunny with fluffy white clouds and it was just perfect. None of the teachers had to spend a second trying to round up kids for events. The kids did it themselves. We actually got to enjoy the events as spectators for the first time! Oh, granted, we had a couple of knuckleheads who got into trouble. (Nothing like Mrs. Angora who confiscated a record nine cell phones during the 8th grade field day, however.) But all in all, it was just a lot less stressful, and a lot more fun than any we've ever had in the past.
Oh my gosh, why oh why didn't we think of this before?