Friday, April 25, 2008

A Screamingly Good Time, Or How To Survive Field Day

As a rule, the teachers in the 7th grade look upon field day with dread. If it can go wrong, it most likely will.

Rain delays, for example, are torture. There is nothing quite like having 300 plus kids all ready for field day, hyped up and wound tight, only to have it postponed due to rain. No matter how fun and exciting your lessons are that day, they don't measure up to any potential field day, and the disappointment is palpable.

Field day is also a day where even the good kids can lose total control, start fights, or do something equally stupid. Last year's was one of the worst in recent memory, and any memories of good field days we had in previous years were nearly obliterated by this one. Nothing like freezing weather, injuries, flood and fights to make a miserable day.

So it was with apprehension that we approached this day.

And the volleyball tournament went off great. The kids screamed, yelled, but never got rowdy or out of control.

We went out to the kickball field and discovered that it was a picture perfect day. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, a nice breeze and temperatures, by the end of the day, in the low 80's. The kids ran around, bought snow cones, played kickball and had a ton of fun. Mr. Social Studies and I kept an eye on Angry Boy who has returned to us from a three month stint in a residential mental health facility and was a bit of a concern. He does not do well in unstructured environments (gym class was a nightmare with this kid), and we were waiting for his melt-down and subsequent visit to guidance. Amazingly enough, he survived the entire day without having a single melt-down or issue, truly something to be proud of.

Lunch went off without a hitch, and even going back to the homerooms to cool down and relax while one of the other 7th grade teams had their turn at lunch went well. We did have one issue with Angry Girl (is it me, or did we get every kid in the school diagnosed as bipolar this year?) when she went off on some girl from another team in the bathroom. Two of our girls came and got me, I had Mr. Social Studies watch my room, and caught Angry Girl as she was being escorted out of the bathroom by Mrs. Chicken. We had the kids do statements, I plopped her in guidance, and that was it.

By this time we're all looking at each other going, "This is weird but we've only had the one blow-up with Angry Girl and that's it? When is the other show going to drop?"

We finished kickball, and got the kids out to the playing field for the other events, things like sack races, tug of war, three legged race, and so forth. This is usually the part of the day that drives us crazy because trying to get the kids organized into the events they signed up for earlier in the week is like herding cats. They wander around, go get free hot dogs from the PTO, buy more candy bars, and generally are as elusive as mist when you really need them. We worked out a system where we started herding the teams together an event ahead of time. If someone couldn't be found, we grabbed a kid and stuck him or her on the team.

It worked great. In fact, it was so great that the P. E. Department was looking at us with their jaws hanging open. We finished field day a good 45 minutes early, mainly because we got the kids where they needed to be when they needed to be. They kept gushing over how cool it was that they didn't have to waste time rounding up kids. We broke the record for the fastest field day ever. (Maybe the fact we didn't have to waste time with fights helped as well.)

However, we didn't want to take them into the building and have them sit 45 minutes in our classrooms. That would have been nightmarish.

So we got 100 kids up on their feet and Mrs. Language lead them all in a rousing game of Simon Says.

And we all had a very good, very nice day.

Oh, we didn't win this year again. But we did come in second with 15 points. That was nice.


HappyChyck said...

I went on a field trip my students this week, and we ended up having 4 hours in a park were we had a mini field day. The students were lamenting that it's too bad that they gave up field days in elementary school. I had to agree with them, as it was nice seeing them take a day off from academics and just be kids. I guess I'm a little jealous of your school!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Simon Says? Seventh-graders were playing Simon Says? That Mrs. Language must know how to work magic!!!

nbosch said...

I thank God everyday for people like you who like middle schoolers! I hate the new fangled field days we have in our district for elementary kiddos---a bunch of rinky dink activities where no one wins or loses, but hopefully everyone makes it through the day feeling good about themselves. Give me a good old three legged race of 50 yard dash any day.

Mister Teacher said...

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"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oooh, then there's Steal the Bacon, and Red Rover (which we once used on a field trip to a nature preserve with great success), and Red Light/Green Light.

Seventh graders will play ANY game, but especially their old favorites.