As we step into a brand new school year, let’s take a quick look back at how, with your help, our Junior Coaches turned the playground around. Here are two quick stories from our Coaches.
Overcoming Fears – Coach Em
It is not surprising that newly appointed Junior Coaches would feel nervous when tasked with recess duties, even though they were helping out only at their own recess. Some were natural-born leaders, fitting into their roles as if they have been doing this for years; but for many, it was their first experience in being seen as a leader amongst their peers. There were apprehensive responses, and a few even refused to report to their stations.
There were tough times, but it was through these moments of fear and refusal that I saw a transformation in my Junior Coach, Michael.
When Michael reported to his first assigned recess duty, he chose to work at the soccer station. However, when other students started playing, Michael was very hesitant to join, and simply refused in the end. When I asked him why, he said that there were too many students—he did not feel comfortable telling them what to do. I tried to coax him into it, explaining that at recess with his peers, being a Junior Coach simply meant setting a good example—by playing safely, using positive language, and getting an adult involved if any significant conflicts arise. But sometimes it’s not that easy. After our conversation, Michael hid under a bench for the rest of recess.
Michael and I had a few more conversations about leadership and the expectations that come with over the course of that week. Somewhere along the line, Michael must have understood that I was not expecting him to instruct or discipline, but instead, step up to intentionally create a safe, inclusive, and positive environment for everyone to have fun in, and to set an example for his friends. When Michael reported to his next recess duty, he made it onto the soccer field!
While he could still be found occasionally goofing off with his classmates, he demonstrated fair play and modeled behaviors that he knew he could be proud of. By the end of the school year, Michael had fully fledged into a leader. Not only has his fear of being in the spotlight decreased significantly, but Michael also reminded me every day when his recess duty was.
He took the initiative to lead a tag game for K-1st graders, stepped in to prompt his friends to Rock, Paper, Scissors when they had disagreements, and remembered and reminded his classmates to respect the teacher in the classroom. Michael worked hard to become a recognized leader in his school, and he was very successful—his peers looked to him to set the example, asked for his help when they got into arguments, and Michael confidently led the way. I am very proud of his development throughout the year, and I wish him all the best in the future!
My Junior Coaches Support Anti-Bullying – Coach Butler
Bullying is something that happens in every school, all across the world. As one of our aims is to create an all-inclusive environment, it is inevitable that the topic will come up—and one day it did.
During one of my Junior Coach meetings, we focused on defining and giving examples of bullying. In the format of an open-floor discussion about bullying, I asked if they would like to share some stories, as long as those involved remained anonymous, and that they had our promise that we would not inquire more information about the situation.
Whilst they were sharing their experiences with the group, I took a moment to look at the expressions on their faces. I watched as they began to feel upset, disappointed, sad, and even hurt by the content of our discussion. But one thing that blew me away was how mature their responses were.
Although just children, they demonstrated the ability and maturity to understand the severity of the topic, and even came up with intelligent solutions to help prevent and even stop bullying. One Junior Coach suggested that we hold an assembly where we act out different bullying situations. Another Junior Coach proposed that we make posters to raise awareness of bullying and kids who have experienced bullying. My favorite was where a Junior Coach recommended starting a club where victims of bullying and bullies themselves come together, talk it out, and become friends.
After, we played a nice game as debrief to lift their spirits before they headed home. But wow, what a day!
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