In our classroom, we stress the importance of being a good friend and being a good sport in all that we do. Whether it’s Fitness Friday, P.E. class, board games in the classroom, or a game during recess, our kids know we stand for nothing less than the utmost respect for all others. We also emphasize that good sports are winners all the time. It didn’t feel like a coincidence when we opened up 365 Days of Wonder last Thursday, a daily book of inspirational quotes for kids, and right there on the page for that day was the Vince Lombardi quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” It was the perfect invitation to remind the kids what we value.
It just so happened that the next day, Friday, was the highly anticipated “5 minute challenge” for the First Grade P.E. classes. During this event, which happens four times every school year, Coach Cahill puts the kids’ endurance to the test by seeing how many complete laps each child can run/walk in 5 minutes. He then calculates an average amount of laps for each child and lets the kids track their improvement throughout the year. This final challenge was the grand finale…the main event…and one that Mrs. B and Mr. P were definitely going to be a part of.
In the fall, the Bristow/Pileggi class came in at a respectable 2.8 laps, which earned us fourth place (out of 4, but who’s counting) among First Grade. Our class was determined to improve, so with consistent morning laps around the playground or the track, hard work in P.E., and dedication and determination from the kids, we managed to increase our average. We improved to 2.89 the second time we raced, to 3.25 the third time we raced. Can you see the pattern here? Our kids caught on that it felt good, really good, to set a goal and work towards it. It sparked some really positive dialogue about goal setting and taking care of our bodies, both of which tied in nicely to our Human Body unit covering six essential systems with our bodies. When Paul and I promised the kids that we would run with them during the fourth and final 5 minute challenge to encourage and inspire them, and show our support, it really kicked things into high gear.
We decided to call this final 5 minute challenge Fitness Friday for the week. In the kids’ eyes, all the stars were aligning. While we were somewhat concerned it would add pressure to the students, we felt good about the fact that we were sending positive messages about running, goal setting, and overall sportsmanship.
When the time came to strap on our runners and have some fun, you can only imagine how completely thrilled we were to finish with an average of 3.42 laps per student, giving us the highest average of laps per student for First Grade. Like the 1991 Atlanta Braves, our hard work and dedication carried us from “worst to first,” a proud spot to be in!
We couldn’t be more proud of our class. They have worked with determination to improve individually and as a class and their hard work paid off. They ran off the track with a sense of pride and accomplishment that would make anyone’s heart swell. (We had to laugh that they had enough gas left in the tank to run off the track and to the playground when mere minutes before they could hardly walk to the water fountain but again, who’s counting?)
Some call it a passion, others may call it leading by example, but at the end of the day it’s about teaching kids to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. Mission Accomplished.
As we gathered back here on Monday morning, still on a runner’s high, don’t think we let up and gave them a pass from their morning laps…we are just getting started friends.