Life in the Slow Lane

Tuesday was the first night that I went to run in  the pool this summer.  I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of crowds.  Now that we’re into the first week of summer holiday, a lot of kids have no real bedtime so it was quite likely that there would be a lot more of them at the Y than during a school night.  Also, it’s been really hot in southern Ontario so I figured that the pool would be insanely busy.   I played it safe and aimed to get into the water at 8:30, after swim classes were over and around the time when most kids should have been heading home.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I walked onto the deck and saw about 20 women in 3 or 4 lanes (I tried not to count – or stare) as they waved their arms around during what I thought was the end of their aquafit class.  As the music seemed to be too “pumped up” to be the end of any fitness class, I asked one of the lifeguards when it was over.  8:45; 20 minutes away. “Great,” I thought.  “It’s a good thing I have my swim cap and goggles.  Now I get to do some lengths while I wait.”  My thoughts were full of sarcasm since doing lengths was really the last thing I wanted to do.  But I did – maybe 500 metres worth – until the music softened, signalling the end of Aquafit.

As I walked on the deck to my bag to trade my cap and googles for my running belt, a group of boys catapulted into the pool running area.    I figured they were about 13 years old and as I counted them (yes, I did count this time), I recognized 2 from school.  The group was trying to hide in the top corner of the pool, laughing away.  “Really, guys?” I thought as I took out my buoyancy belt.   The names of my two students were being yelled loudly by their friends, without a doubt to draw attention to them and embarrass them, but the boys’ giggles had already done that for them.  I shook my head and laughed.  “Just what I need – the boys I taught to see me in a swimsuit.”  I had a flashback to my Grade 8 year when some of my friends talked about seeing our geography teacher water skiing – in a bikini [gasp!].  I figured I was safe in my one-piece speedo.  The buoyancy belt, though: that was sure to be a conversation piece.  I had never been more grateful that cameras were not allowed on deck.

I climbed into the pool and started to run.  Within a minute,  all six of them swished past me and headed back to the security of the wading pool at the other end of the deck.  I was safe to run on my own.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll see kids from school at the pool again this summer.  That’s one of the joys of teaching in the community you live: you run into kids and their parents a lot.  And now it has given me a new superpower; I can clear a section of a pool just by standing in it, leaving the whole area to me.

 

A team approach to Halloween

When you work with Grade 7/8 kids, your Halloween costume better be good.  You want something unique, something that is going to impress and wow them.  And you want something that is school friendly and going to be fun.

My three teaching partners and I decided to plan a “team costume.”  We created a school license plate: LMMO-182.  The letters are the initials of our last names, the dash was replaced with our school logo, and the 182 is the sum of our ages (Yes, we put ourselves out there with that part).  But we didn’t tell our students what we were; they had to guess.

When our Grade 7’s first walked into our classes, they only saw one piece of the license, and they didn’t know that our costumes went together. “What are you suppose to be?”  they asked.  My response was very teacher-like. “That’s what you have to figure out.

During the first four periods, I was bombared with questions.  Some of the best are:

1. Are you 82 years old?  (Oh, good grief!) -No, and you need to work on your estimating skills.

2.  Is it a Math question?  -Math is involved.

3. Is there a back?  -No, I don’t need a back.

4. Are you 82 squared?  No, you’re a rectangle.   -Ooo, thinking exponents.  I like that one.

5. There isn’t a sign between the 8 and the 2, so that automatically means multiplication, so 8 x 2 = 16.  You’re 16!  -I like that answer better than 82 years old.

6. You’re a composite number!  (Yay, they are listening to me!)

7. Are you a runner?  -I am a runner, but I am not wearing a runner’s costume.

8. You’re a composite number, a square and a rectangle.  -Can you show me where the square is?  -Oh, that’s a rectangle too.  What has 2 rectangles and an 82?

9. You’re a marathon runner!

10. (Said a student who saw the #1) You’re 182!  -There goes your math mark.

11. Can I go to check the Book of World Records? -Why? -Because, apparently, you are the oldest person in the world.

We had the 12 year olds hooked.  After all, who doesn’t love a good puzzle.  If they weren’t asking us questions, they were looking at us, and I could see the gears in their heads turning.  By the afternoon, a few kids had figured out that we were a license plate and the reasoning behind it, and they stood back to watch the others struggle to piece us together.

At the end of the day, we gave our students the answer to our puzzle.   Our grade 7’s were impressed.  I loved that they had so much fun with it, and I had a lot of fun with their own creative answers.

I am now tempted to ask “The sum of your teachers’ ages is 182 years.  Find out how old your teachers are.”  The possible answers have me curious.  Dare I, or dare not?  Nope.  This time, I don’t think I want to know what our Grade 7’s think.