The Joys of Recess

Cook Elementary Recess Team: L to R Deb Collins, Principal; John Kiblewhite, Vice Principal and Tracy Blagdon, Energy Manager

Recess supervision, or how to keep an eye on a large group of kids who just all want to have fun – at the same time. 

All of us in  school district management are helping out with recess supervision now, and we’ll be doing it until the teacher job action ends. More to the point, we’re all enjoying it, and sharing stories about our adventures when we come back to the office.  I thought it would be a good idea to write up some of my experiences as a recess supervisor, the first “road trips” to schools I’ve made this year.  This is partly to share them, but mainly to make sure I keep thinking about what is going on in schools.  That’s easy to forget in my office, filled as it is with adults and adult priorities, yet this school world is really the place that matters.

You can almost hear a joyful collective sigh as children tumble out of class and onto the playground on a sunny September morning at Cook Elementary School.  Some of them are already negotiating serious “snack swaps” using food from home as bargaining chips, and they’re giving this business the full attention it deserves.

The sand pit is also a hive of activity, and the kids don’t seem to care that their shoes will be full of the stuff when they go back inside. The sheer energy and enthusiasm they bring to recess is a startling reminder of what it means to be young, and how different it is from being well, old.

Can't Get Enough Sand

The recess supervision team is out in full force. Vice Principal John Kibblewhite is playing a soccer game with a group of boys off in the distance.  As the bell rings and the kids trail inside, one of these boys comes and asks John if he needs to check in with him before he goes to class.  John solemnly tells him since they’ve been together all recess playing soccer, he doesn’t need to check in.

“Lunch though, I have to, right?”  Lunch though, he clearly wants to, and John agrees that would be a good idea.   The boy grins and goes inside.  “He’s having a rough time, and it helps him to touch base,” says John, and no more needs to be said.

Recess is a slice of what goes on in and around the classroom all day, unbridled energy, moments of intense interaction and strong doses of care and attention.  It’s good to be reminded of that, because more than anything, these caring moments linger for students long after they’re no longer in school and no longer children.  John’s comment reminds me that we take care with children because school is their initiation into the world away from home.   We take care with them because everything is new to them, and through them we renew everything.  And yes, it’s very good to remember that.

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