I spent two days this past week at West Dover, an elementary school in Calgary, speaking to students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 about being unique, embracing differences, dealing with bullying, finding a passion and treating others with respect. After my presentation, over the course of 2 days, I had the opportunity to teach frisbee to all 300 students, which was great because the school actually ordered enough frisbees so that each student got to have one! Knowing this, I was especially focused on making sure the students learned the basics of throwing & catching and what was possible with a frisbee (over 100 different throws and the various disc sports they could play).
One situation in particular that stands out comes from a grade 2/3 class. I had all of the kids partner up and grab a frisbee and find some space in the gym so they could practice throwing and catching. For this age, I usually will have the kids give each other a high five and take one step back, so I can ensure that they don’t get too far apart and have the ability to work on their throwing and catching mechanics and technique.
One pair in particular (a grade 2 boy and a grade 3 girl) were partnered up because they were both left without a partner. They seemed to be having trouble getting started so I went over to find out what was wrong. The boy had his hand out but the girl wasn’t giving him a high five. When I asked what was wrong, she told me that she didn’t want to touch him because he was in grade 2. I explained to her that the year before, she was in grade 2, and how would she have felt if a student in grade 3 didn’t give her a high five for the same reason. With some reluctance, she finally gave him a high five and they started to play catch.
It’s always amazing to me the different sub stories that exist within a school, a grade, a class, a pairing, an individual. People are complex individuals and we all draw on different backgrounds and experiences, both young and old alike. There are so many little things in play when I witness a situation like what I describe above but what I think is important is that we take the time to ask the question and find out what the problem is and then either offer a solution or reframe the problem so the individual will solve the problem themselves.
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend two days with these wonderful kids. Thanks to all of the students and staff for welcoming me into your school!