Monday, November 28, 2011

"Get Off!"

A week or so ago, I posted about how the kids made a teeter totter that turned into a kind of balance beam. The older kids found it again last week as the rains came down.

On Monday, Charlotte took it on, balancing across the teeter totter, clearly setting out to master the thing. She walked quickly to the pivot point, then carefully across it until the board tipped under her weight, then turned around and went back again.

The problem was that there were soon other kids who wanted to play on the new toy, which really bollixed up her plans. 

"Get off! Get off!"

It was frustrating. As soon as she convinced one person to step off another stepped on.

"Get off! Get off!"

Last year as a 2-year-old she would have likely pushed someone, but the only time she put her hands on other kids on Wednesday was in an attempt to focus their attention on her, to get them to listen to what she had to tell them: "Get off!"

She wanted the board free for her experiments, but others wanted to play with it too. Charlotte was forceful, but under control. Each, "Get off!" sounded to me as if she would have appended it with, "I just need it for a couple more minutes," if she'd thought of it.

I helped her clear the decks a couple times by stating the fact, "Charlotte wants everyone to get off," which gave her a couple opportunities to scamper across unimpeded, but it didn't last as the next wave of curious classmates arrived out of the rain, hooded, with zombie-like persistency, to be on that teeter totter board with her.

At one point there were so many kids standing there, it seemed momentarily hazardous, so I stood on one end, my body weight keeping the whole thing from tipping. The kids on the opposite end, Charlotte included, rose into the air.

The other kids jumped off the side, but Charlotte stayed on, turning on the springy, raised end of the board as if it were a diving board over a swimming pool. She began to jump, once, twice, thrice then launched herself into the wood chips. A few of the other kids then gave it go, or rather, they walked out on the plank and jumped off, but only Charlotte tried the three bounce swan dive.

The following day it was raining even harder. Violet and I found ourselves together near the teeter totter. I asked, "Have you played with the new toy."

"This?" She got up on it, standing pretty much in the center. I stood on one end, raising the opposite end like I'd done the day before.

Violet walked out to the raised end of the board, jumped once, twice, thrice then launched herself into the wood chips. She did it several times. I was probably cheering aloud for her. At least, looking back that's what would explain what happened next. Within a matter of minutes nearly every child in the outdoor classroom was lined up for a turn, a queue of close to 20 children that stretched well into the sand pit.

The rain beat upon us as we jumped from our improvised spring board. Most of us landed on our feet, but some, like Gray, chose the belly flop, and he wasn't the only one.

So this is an instance when I, as the teacher, wasn't just observing or making statements of fact: I was performing a vital role, serving as dead weight. I reckon I'll do it again today.

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Amanda @ The Educators' Spin On It said...

Every time I read your posts I am so grateful that you (and others who share your passion) are in the lives of our children. More adults need to serve as the "dead weight" and support our kids.

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Now, this sounds like fun!

cherib said...

I also LOVE that you are outside RAIN or SHINE! I've got to get my parents to send their kids to school in the PROPER CLOTHING so we can PLAY as hard as you all do up there outside in Seattle!! :)