For the fourth year, I am participating in the SOLSC and guiding students from my classroom and my school on the same writing journey. Here is the link to our school blog and the 15-20 students who are participating in the Classroom Challenge.
On The Fly
Today was the first day of Ultimate practice. Ultimate is also known as Frisbee Football or Ultimate Frisbee. It is the fourth year I have led the team, after a group of students started the team and asked me to be their coach. Ultimate is a coed sport so encouraging girls to play, and boys to include them is an additional concern. Each year I have some of the same worries like: Will enough students come out to play? How will it work having students, ages 10-14, on the same team? How will we make one team from a group that include five classes, at least two genders and a wide variety of skill levels? Am I a fraud (I only ever played casually in college)? Will we have fun?
Well, after three years of having a lot of fun, winning most of our games some seasons and only winning one last season, there were thirty-two students out to play today, and another fifteen-plus who could not make it but said they planned to be on the team. That's a lot of kids! That's actually too many kids but since the focus is on fun and not winning, I know it will be just fine. It is a game only seven players can play at the same time so I work to make sure everyone plays with a low focus on winning and a big emphasis on having fun and skill improvement. Plus, everyone should be able to make a pass and be passed to during the game.
But today, there are thirty-two kids in the gym, looking at me and my assistant coach. Fourteen played last year, eighteen are trying out a new sport, and the wind is howling outside. Spring in Colorado is not kind to people who are learning to throw and catch a 175 gram flying disc for the first time, my practice plan looks to be out the window, and we will be managing things on the fly. Going outside today is not a good option.
Luckily, my assistant coach is an amazing environmental education teacher and we have worked together for the last seven years, taking our students across the country. We have spent over 100 days on extended trips with students, dealing with icy roads in short busses near Breckenridge Colorado, being kicked out of Chaco Canyon NP (that government shutdown a few years ago), torrential rain storms in Goblin Valley Utah, and jellyfish stings in the Florida Keys. We know how to adjust on the fly together, we trust each other to lead, follow, and just plain make it work.
So instead of heading to the park and going through the practice plan we had outlined and shared, we stayed in the windless gym, had everyone make a lot of throws and catches, set up team expectations for fun and spirit, ran a lot in socks, and had the players with experience give a short scrimmage the last few minutes so we could learn some basic rules and answer questions.
A lot of my teaching and coaching goes that way. I have a plan, something happens that makes that plan go out the window and I spend the rest of lesson, or even day, improvising and making it work.
It does not always work.
Sometimes it works like magic.
Today, the first practice was magic.photo credit: prawnpie Colorado Cup VI via photopin (license)