When I was a student teacher at Jacksonville State, I had the pleasure of learning from one of the best physical educators I'd come across. This school in rural Alabama was full of children with many needs. Basic needs. Everywhere we turned, there would be a child needing new clothes, a pencil, a meal and some even needing a home. This teacher and her team were the best! They knew what was important and it wasn't that the kids learn anything about P.E. They DID learn about P.E., but they got to experience so much more. Compassion. Nurturing. Love. Tough love. Forgiveness. Joy. Belonging. Goodness. Hope. There was not a single day of my student teaching experience I didn't learn something myself. There was also not a single day of that experience we didn't laugh out loud. I have lots of stories to share from those few months, but the one I thought I would share today is a "Just Bit" of "Just Funny."
We were teaching a basketball unit. Before I get into the story, I want you to imagine being in a gym full of children (I think the biggest class we had included 115 kindergarteners), each... with their own... basketball. What do basketballs sound like hitting gym the floor? What do 115 basketballs sound like hitting the gym floor in uncoordinated fashion? Consider too, we taught each grade (Kindergarten - 6th grade) everyday, all day long. So, 115 basketballs x7? I'll tell you. It sounds like a headache.
I remember having a planning session with my teacher about this unit and asking her, "Why in the world, with such large classes, would we hand each and every child their own basketball?" Her reply hit me harder than those basketballs would give me a headache. "Because for most of these kids, they will not go home and have their own to play with." After that, I learned from her how she would spend funds and plan to save for certain pieces of equipment to ensure that each child got the opportunity to play... with... their... own. Remember? They always knew what was most important. I got over the fact that I would go home with headache knowing some of those kids would go home with a little joy and a little hope.
Now to the "just bit" of "just funny." Remember how I said we never went a day without laughing? This was an instant classic. We teachers were standing at the front of the gym, looking out at and instructing a giant class about what we would be working on that day. We were giving directions about how each child would walk up, getting... their very own... basketball and what to do next. One child bounced up, knocking someone over, banging into someone else and doing what we in the south call, "causing a scene." One of the teacher's paraprofessionals holding a basketball in her hand said, "Oh no! You have not behaved like you are ready to receive the ball. Go and find your composure!" The little girl turned around, walked away and the rest of us moved on to the next. A few minutes later, the children were moving all around the gym with every single ball bouncing, working on a skill when the teacher's parapro looked over and asked, "Hey. What is she doing?" We all looked to see the little girl frantically searching for something. Like she'd lost a contact for her eyes. She was called over and we asked, "What are you doing? Are you okay?" The little girl replied, "I was looking for my c'posure." We erupted into laughter. Bless her heart. She was handed her own basketball and went to playing.
I'll leave you to gather your own reflection of this story and maybe remember a similar experience of simple laughter, eluding. Maybe you'll also consider a time your own point of view shifted for the better of someone else.