We often play our own versions of soccer, basketball, kick ball, dodge ball in the big yard but we have never really played a ball type game in any organized manner in our class. Eric, Justin’s dad, is a baseball coach and I asked if he would take us to the park to play someday.

Finally we came upon a day that had NO precipitation expected and we made a plan. I heard many of the kids talking about how they weren’t going to play. Someone said, “I don’t play “ball” games.” Some even had their parents talk to me about not wanting to play. I even had one kid who was terrified from the fear of not being able to do it. There were also many kids who had been waiting for this day all spring.

Wow. I remember gym and how scary it could be. I didn’t want this to turn to a group who loved playing baseball and a group that was too afraid of not hitting the ball to not even try. I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go down but we headed to the baseball field none-the-less.

We got there, split into two groups by counting 1,2,1,2 and group 1 took the field while group 2 was up to bat. We decided to just bat through the entire line up and then switch. This was going to be cooperative wiffle ball. There were no outs, everyone got a chance to swing away at the ball until they hit it (often with my help) and there were no winners or losers. I think ultimately this was what the kids were afraid of. Maybe in the future we can introduce more of the field rules but for today this was just what was needed.

There are times as a teacher (and parent) that you just have to give that extra push (even if it’s a hard push). I don’t always make kids do something just because we are all doing it. I really try to respect what the kids feel they can and cannot do. But sometimes something just tells me to push a little harder. One of our students was so afraid but I knew they wanted to try but they were just afraid of failure.   So, I actually held their face in my hands and firmly said, “you are going to do this, you can do this!” And away the ball flew with a little swing help form me. And they did it and ended up loving it, feeling so confident and ready to do it again.

I don’t always know what the right thing to do is and I certainly don’t always make the right decisions or follow through in the perfect way but today seemed to come out the other side with the kids feeling really confident in doing something out of their comfort zone. All the way back they kept asking me, “are we going to play again soon?”

Whew! Who knew wiffle ball could be so liberating, confidence building and another learning experience for us all.

Thanks again Eric!

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