Recess Duty in January
If I am being honest, there are a million things I love about being a teacher, but January recess duty is not one of them. However, it is absolutely a bright spot in the schedule for most kids. There is also an overwhelming amount of research about the positive impact of physical activity brain-breaks on students’ ability to process new learning as well as the importance of giving children unstructured time to create, invent, imagine, and problem solve by playing. Therefore, the benefits of recess outweigh my desire to stay warm inside, and out we go!
When I taught very young students, I could guarantee that at least once a day I would hear a little voice yell out across the playground, “Watch this!” What they were really saying is, “I just took a risk. I did something new and cool. It was so cool that I am going to do it again. I might even do it better this time. I am super-excited about it, and I want you to be my witness!” Now that I teach older students, the appeal for an audience is directed at their friends with words more like, “Dude…check it.” Still, the desire to have someone notice and appreciate the risk and accomplishment is still there. I would argue that even as adults, we have the same desires. We might not call out across the room for an audience as we stretch out of our comfort-zone at work or have an all-star parenting moment, but we do post and hashtag the highlight reel on social media. At any age, it feels good to have our risks and the resulting accomplishments get noticed and appreciated by others.
I think there is also something quite special about being the audience for these snapshots of a young person’s life. What a privilege we’ve been given, to be the witness to their moment of joy and pride. To the world it might be just another four-foot slide, but for some four-year-old it might be a Mount Everest of gross motor skills. To the world it might be just another book report, but for some 9-year-old it might be swimming through an ocean of public speaking anxiety. To the world it might be just another biology project, but for some high school student it might be the moment a fire of scientific passion is lit that unlocks a cure for Alzheimer’s one day. Who knows how one moment of accomplishment might snowball into something amazing. And we get the privilege of being able to say, “I was there when….!” Even if that means recess duty in January.