Yesterday was the second and final Sports Day at school. Similar to the first Sports Day, all students from grades 6-8 are organized in houses, Barracudas, Sting Rays, Squid Squads and Dolphins. I do not really know where the aquatic theme started from, but alas, these are the house names. I am a Sting Ray. Students receive these "house assignments" when they enter middle school in grade 6 and they remain with their house for all three years.
Around my school it is common knowledge that the Sting Rays are the worst team and have been for a long time. It is assumed that we will come in last place every time. This is quite difficult for me, because I do not really like to lose, and I do not like starting the day with the assumption that my team is going to lose. How am I supposed to motivate my students to have fun and participate when they think there is no point? That is zero fun, for everyone.
Basically, I started the day tired from being up too late grading, and crabby that my team is the worst. The beginning of the day only confirmed the lame-ness of the Sting Rays when we were asked to go first for the team cheers and my students sat their doing nothing, while all the other teams stand up cheer and cause a general ruckus. My colleague, Scott and I just stared at each other with facial expressions that basically suggested we would rather just be teaching that be dealing with this business.
However, as always happens when one has zero or negative expectations, things only improved from there. The day started with some track & field races and games, such as the 100m dash, relay races, three-legged race, and more. The students who got into these activities had a blast, and I once again loved watching my students excel at things in a non-academic setting. After a short morning break, students broke off into smaller groups for the organized sports of soccer, softball and basketball. Students had signed up on teams in advance, so they already knew which sports they would be playing. I was assigned to supervise softball, shocker, I know and I LOOOOOOVED it.
Basically, all the softball/baseball kids are the nice ones (more reasons why baseball is a fabulous sport) and I had a blast with them on the field. While I did cheer a bit louder for the Sting Rays team, I cheered on all the teams and played third base coach. I pretty much sent kids running home at every opportunity, which took advantage of the limited throwing/catching skills of middle schoolers, but totally made the games more exciting and higher scoring. Hooray! My students still don't really understand the fly ball rule (you can only tag up after the ball is caught), and I did try to invoke the Infield Fly Rule before the baseball activities guy reminded me that our kids are 11-13, but overall it was a successful venture. And, wait for it.....STING RAYS WON!!!! Champions of softball is good enough for me, cause let's be honest now, baseball is all that matters in life.
The day finished with an eighth grade game of dodgeball, Colombian style, which means as soon as you are out, you go stand around the outside boundaries of the opposite team and if you get a ball, you can throw it at the opposite team members who are still in. This makes the game really confusing, fast-paced, intense and great to watch. Steph and I were somewhat irritated on seeing our girls always pass the balls to the boys to throw, rather than throwing the balls themselves, but overall I enjoyed watching. And....absolutely STING RAYS WON dodgeball too! Rockstars! By this point we realized that we were doing so well we had to do better than last place. Sure enough, when they announced fourth place to the Squid Squads, all the Sting Rays cheered (yeah, yeah, yeah limited good sportsmanship, I know) because we weren't last! We ended up in third place, only 5 points shorts of second place!!! This definitely bodes well for future sports days. Maybe by the time I leave Colombia the Sting Rays will have a new dynasty. :) In the mean time...not last is good enough for me. :)
Lesson learned: Zero expectations means any reward is a good one.