Yesterday I once again spent quality time at Patience's elementary school. I've recently been fairly critical about district level decisions that I strongly believe negatively affect children. However, the good thing about spending time in the school with the teachers and children is that I get the chance to see how teachers creatively keep children engaged in learning and challenge them with great new lessons. In short, I get to see teachers succeed despite frequently not being enabled to do so or supported adequately.
The kindergarten teachers are a fantastic group; I don't think, from what I've seen, that a child could get anything less than a really good one. They truly seem to get joy from the children.
In addition to the teachers, the children spend quality time (once a week) with the music teacher, the art teacher and the coaches.
One coach we know from gymnastics, where he taught a couple of Patience's classes. He's a tall young man, and seems patient and kind.
Another coach Patience describes as something of a pinch hitter. She seems very organized and energetic; she seems to like to keep things moving along.
The other coach is truly in it for fun. He always seems very upbeat. He's gregarious and fun. I heard this is his Just Because I Want to job, just because he loves coaching and kids. He's a little older, not that you'd guess that.
Patience's PE isn't the old dodge ball and square dancing torture I recall from elementary school. It's fun and exciting.
The coaches work a fair hand at keeping their PE class fun, interesting and hip. Patience likes PE, which isn't a surprise, but she also likes the dancing they do, which is a surprise to me because I haven't been able to engage her interest in dancing at all. However, these coaches have, and I thank them for that!
Yesterday, at the school, I stood with a gaggle of moms and spied on the PE class. The female coach and the fun coach were leading the children in...the Cupid Shuffle.
Music blaring, a field of about 80 five to six year olds stood in lines shuffling like Cupid. It was fantastic.
Some children struggled with the steps, staring at their feet. They occasionally got a little tangled, but they'd uncross their ankles and keep going. Some children were very precise, doing the steps just so--more interested in ensuring exactness. Their faces were pinched with concentration nearly as intense as the children who struggled. Some children free-formed, spinning and swaying to the music's beat. Some children, including Patience, did the steps, more or less, with a great deal of verve and some originality.
Patience took huge steps to the left...to the left, and now to the right...to the right...and her walk it by yourself included grabbing a friend and pit-style bouncing.
We stood on the side, watching and laughing in pure joy and amusement. I had my camera and snapped away.
Patience spied me and waved, grabbing a a hapless child to her side while shrieking, "My mom! My mom!" She waved madly and lost her place in the dance until the coach bellowed, "To the LEFT, to the LEFT," while whipping her arm in a counter-clockwise circle and exaggeratedly moving to the left. Patience's friend grabbed her arm and dragged her back into the dance.
Nothing shook the focus of the concentrating kids, although one who I know well did break for a second to shoot me a small, quick smile. The free form kids happily seized any opportunity to ham it up more.
And that's when it happened. A free form boy near Patience grabbed her, spun her around and kissed her! Patience froze, startled, then a small smile spread across her face. She giggled, and resumed dancing. The boy hopped and leaped in circles around her.
When the dance ended, the coaches guided the queues to the door to go back to class. They had to put on their costumes for the kindergarten feast. As the lines passed by, the kissing boy called out, "Hey Patience's mom, today Patience is my bride so I get to kiss her ALL DAY!" and then he grabbed her again and planted a kiss on her cheek, just to demonstrate, to exclamation mark his words.
Patience smiled, then checked my reaction. I smiled and shrugged, reminded her she could tell him no, but she smiled again and said, "It's okay." She looked pleased.
And off they went to class, her Cupid shuffling along behind her.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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