Friday, May 4, 2012

"Out of classroom" lessons

After beginning my 'blogging" last week, I found myself skeptical of the whole idea a few days later. I wasn't sure if I had ideas worth sharing. I quickly overcame this doubt tonight and feel this post IS worth sharing.

Today I as privileged enough to be part of our school wide Field Day. For my students this is a HUGE day. They cannot wait to get out of the classroom and show off "other" talents. For me, it is just a great opportunity to have fun and teach various "real life" lessons while reflecting on the many things kids can, and do learn, outside of the classroom.

I was stationed at the long jump this year and spent the afternoon conversing with the students, measuring attempts and cheering them on. One conversation today is the motive for this blog post. A fifth grade girl came up to me and said, "Mrs. Callihan, I sure hope you are running the 400M with the sixth grade girls today!" I looked at her and said, "Wow, you remember that from last year." I was speechless. This young lady remembered this from her fourth grade year. The thought of this "race" was on my mind for sure, but this comment put the "icing on the cake" for me. I knew I had to be committed and go for it.

Two years ago when I first decided to participate in this event, my goal was to encourage all of my sixth grade girls to try the event. This was the only event they could opt out of. I wanted to get as many girls to enter as possible. In my mind, I wanted to use this opportunity to show them a different kind of lesson, a lesson out of the classroom. I wanted to show them that their "time" doesn't always matter. I wanted them to feel the excitement and know how important it was to try these new things and feel the sense of pride and accomplishment when finished. It took some convincing, but I assured this first group I would jog in the back with anyone interested. I assured them we could finish together. Today, and two years later, it was no different. I finished the race with two young ladies who would not have normally competed in this event.

Obviously, actions such as this make a difference to other students as well. The fifth grade student I mentioned earlier cannot wait to participate in 6th grade. She did not run today, but was very curious what my plan was for running. She even committed to trying it next year with me.

Many of us already know the impact our "out of classroom" actions have on our students, but sometimes we don't stop and reflect on the depth of this impact. Although I was out of the classroom today, I can go to bed knowing that I made a difference.  Isn’t that our goal in education?