Stories from the Field

A week of Playworks in Albuquerque, this is what we heard.

We had so many great stories and quotes from our week in Albuquerque, it was hard to choose what to share! Below are just some of what we heard while introducing Playworks tto New Mexico.

Coach Matt, from San Francisco, started the week out well:

As I got out of my van this morning on the second day of my Recess Roll-Out, kids greeted me with smiles and excited faces.  One little girl approached me with an inquisitive look and asked, “You’re back again today?”
“Yeah,” I told her.  “I’ll be here all week.” Hearing this, she ran off with a grin from ear to ear.  I continued on my way across the playground to where I had organized the tag games the day before.  Behind me a crowd of kids had formed, all waiting for me to put my equipment down.  This eclectic bunch of kids, with kinders all the way up to 5th graders, stared at me with eager eyes and bounced around with giddy excitement. 
I had been quiet, letting the anticipation build, before I bellowed, “WHO WANTS TO PLAY A GAME!” 
They erupted with a cheer and lined up across the starting line.  I explained the rules of our game (Cookie Monster) and we were off.  Kindergarten through 5, all playing together, watching out for each other, helping each other play a game half an hour before school even started.  
More and more kids joined the game.  Thirty, forty, fifty kids running and racing around! Teachers and staff watched from a distance, enjoying the sight of their students playing and working together. 
The bell rang and the within five minutes the yard was empty.  I looked out across the landscape and smiled, knowing that soon the playground would be filled again.  Full of kids, full of excitement, full of fun.
Also heard on the playground in New Mexico, a parent said “Are you Coach Tes? I’m so glad to finally meet you; my kids have been talking non-stop about how much fun they’ve been having at recess all week!”
A fifth grade teacher told one of our coaches, “I just wanted to tell you that a few of my students used rock-paper-scissors in the classroom this morning to solve one of their arguments. It’s so amazing how effective that is.”

Coach Eben, from Oakland, Cali. shared this fun story on the final day at Lavaland Elementary:

Today, Lavaland had a special presentation from the juggling team, comprised of 4th and 5th graders.
While classes were filing in and taking their seats by the outdoor stage, a group of kindergartners were waiting patiently for the show to start and were getting a little bored.  Two of them started playing ro sham bo, and soon enough there was a big group of them all playing at once.  They chanted in unison, “Ro Sham Bo!” and it reminded me of the chanting at a concert before the opening act comes on.  They’d throw out their choices and laugh hysterically and do it all again.  At one point they got so in to it that they stopped paying attention to what was being thrown, and scissors started cutting rocks, papers crushing scissors, and rocks seemed to get defeated by other rocks.  One of them noticed this when his rock got smashed by scissors and frowned.  
Being a kindergartner, his next move seemed clear to me by his facial expressionfrustration, yelling, and ultimately an end to the fun. Instead, he stopped the game briefly “wait wait we’re not doing it right! Scissors cuts the paper, rock crushes scissors, and paper covers rock.” The group started giggling, as if to say, “oh yeah! whoops,” and noticing the giggles, the boy said with a laugh “You cut my rock!” and the kids erupted in laughter.  
They continued to playthe way they had been re-taughtuntil the show started.
I’ve been really impressed by the reception and independent implementation of the Playworks style of conflict resolution – but these kinders took it to a whole new level.  They resolved a ro-sham-bo induced conflict by sticking to my favorite rule for the weekhave fun.  These kids really get it, and I hope they can have a coach next year to continue the amazing progress they have made in just four days.

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