Armed and Nameless

Seventh grade social studies and me: Yes. Proven doable. Yesterday, in fact.

This morning at 4:05, the question was: Middle school Physical Education? For the next six school days?

And in a foggy, just-woke-up way, I decided: How hard can it be? What do I have to do, watch them run around in circles and remind them to tie their shoelaces? I can do that for six days, right?


First of all, there are like, 70 of them in the gym at one time. Close to 90% of them of bigger than me, and all of them are armed.

It wasn’t so bad when they were in the locker room, asking me to tie/untie their shoes. (Eighth graders. Who knew?) At least then they moved about in little clumps and you could identify them because somebody was always yelling at somebody else–by name–to get their attention. 

Things got complicated when I realized I was somehow supposed to merge three separate lists into an organized round-robin tournament that will last for the rest of the week. As in: the week I will be here, and so I can’t just fake it until the bell rings and let the regular teacher sort out the mess. She wants to know who won. And she wants specific kids playing other kids in a specific order determined by some complicated algorithm that only PE teachers must be trained to comprehend.

Class roster? Yes.

Little numbers randomly listed (not in order) beside the names on that roster? Yes. 

Columns and columns of other numbers that should somehow correspond to both the roster, and the courts? Yep.

My job was to not only sort out which numbers went with which names, but which names went with which faces.

And then try to make all that happen in the real world. With a large group of identically dressed people, all wantonly swinging racquets–none of whom I know by name. In an acoustical nightmare of a gymnasium.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to take a Sharpie into the gymnasium and label the floor. 


You’re right, that would cause problems when it came time to switch courts… 

Never you fear. A brilliant idea is… just… almost… right within my grasp.




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