Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Smallest Quarterback in the World

I could sit here and complain about the faeries, and how they took my reading glasses and one leather boot, just one, the other one is there, thank you very much. Or I could be somber and muse upon the passing of two beloved cousins within weeks of one another.

Or I can sit back and laugh. So you know which one I'm going to choose.

This is that three-day week of school prior to Thanksgiving. Most schools use these three days as a "spirit week," with all sorts of antics, funny costumes, hallway decoration (Spare excelled at this), and pep rallies. Most schools also shorten the week further by giving students a half day on Wednesday, so they can travel if they need to.

The school where I work goes full throttle until the regular closing time on Wednesday. But we are having a dress-down day, meaning that students don't have to wear their uniforms that day. You know how it is with people who wear uniforms all the time, and suddenly they get to don the fancy shopping mall garb they adore. Heightens the enthusiasm ... not for school, but for antics.

On Monday, my co-teacher asked me what I had planned for the week. Heaving the big, broad, flexible outlook at him, I said, in essence, low-key stuff. He wanted none of it. He planned an ambitious week of serious work, culminating in a test on Wednesday. This made me feel as if I was a slacker, so I gladly adopted the game plan.

Today the game plan went something like this: There was a breakfast for honor roll students first period, which yanked three students from class. Then there was a field trip that yanked four girls out of my third period class and four more from my eighth period class. Several students were absent sixth period, plus the aforementioned field trip youngsters. Wednesday, another group of students is going on a similar field trip, so they'll be gone for the test, while the ones who missed Tuesday will be back for a test that they missed the instruction for. All of this is assuming that students actually show up at school at all Wednesday, given the Nor'Easter forecast of wind-driven rain.

Some weeks are like this.

I have one class that is not co-taught, an Honors freshman group consisting of two boys and five girls. We are reading Mark Kram Jr.'s excellent book, Like Any Normal Day. This book is about football. So of course, three of the girls in the class, while highly intelligent, cannot pick out the quarterback in the game footage. Meanwhile, the boy students drool at the mention of the word "football."

Today I pushed the desks back from the front of the room. I asked the students who knew what a quarterback was to help me re-enact a football play. Turns out the smallest girl in the class knew what a quarterback was. When I say this stripling is five feet tall if she stands on her tip-toes, I may be overestimating.

So I was the center, and the other girl who understood football was the running back, and the boys were the defense. I snapped the "football" (actually a small stuffed Donald Duck with many educational uses) to the teeny tiny girl.

That little slip of a kid grabbed Donald Duck and did the fastest end-run around two hulking defenders that you ever saw. Before any of us could blink, she was doing a hot-dog touchdown dance by the classroom door, as the vice principal stared in suspiciously. She slammed Donald Duck on his head, but Donald's okay.

Modern educational theory holds that the students should teach the class. On this day it actually worked. Not only did the girls who'd never understood football before get a quick crash course, our little quarterback's sneak and subsequent rowdy touchdown celebration perfectly prepared the students for a chapter in which an over-confident quarterback named Buddy Miley celebrates with a tad too much cockiness for his rivals to bear.

My Honors class will have a test. Eventually. I think. I'll get back to you on that. Don't tell the evaluators. Or Governor Chris Christie.

In the meantime, if any of you college recruiters out there are looking for a confident, quick, and nimble quarterback, I know just where you can find one. Scout her. I know you'll agree.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hey, excellent book for your class to read!

Lucretia said...

LOVE this story, thanks for sharing it!! My husband is a football fanatic (and former player), and he's all for girls playing, so I've printed this post out to show him. I know he'll love it!