Jumping with Joy

It is unbelievable how slowly time moves when you are responsible for entertaining a group of energetic and constantly moving elementary school students.

At our first jump rope class, titled “Jump for Joy!” last week, Nicole, Teri, and I stood anxiously in front of 17 faces to explain the class rules. “And finally, you absolutely may not hit each other with your jump ropes,” Nicole concluded, while 34 eyes stared hungrily at the tangle of ropes behind her. One fourth grader stood off to the side in a stolid I’m-rolling-my-eyes-because-this-is-stupid stance. “I didn’t even want to take this class,” he said under his breath.

One particularly restless first grader asked, “Miss, when are we going to get to jump?” “In a minute,” Teri said. “But first Miss Nicole is going to show you how to take your heart rate.” After a short explanation, Nicole nodded at Matt (our class helper for the day) to begin timing for 60 seconds. One…Two…Three….The seconds stumbled painfully along. “Is it over yet?” Nicole whispered to Matt. “It’s been about 10 seconds,” Matt responded. I imagined there would be a rebellion soon, the pent up energy stored in the bodies in front of us exploding like an atom bomb.

After 30 long seconds, we broke down and told students to write down their heart rate. We authorized that it was now Jumping Time. Students cheered. I cautiously moved toward the ropes and handed one potential weapon after another into eager hands. Within seconds, ropes were flying. Some students whipped ropes over their heads while others linked their ropes together in an attempt to jump simultaneously. Unprepared, I took off my clunky cowboy boots and started trying to help the less skilled jumpers. “Try to jump to the rhythm,” I shouted over the noise of ropes and kid voices. “Try to keep your arms at your waist.”

“Like this?” one student asked, flinging her arms around her head and jumping as the rope whipped across her shoes. “Like this?” said another, throwing his arms out in front of him and jumping vigorously.

“Miss,” said one young 1st grader to Nicole, “Can I take my shoes off too?” Others nodded enthusiastically. A nightmarish picture of students sliding around the room on their socks began to form in my mind.

Fortunately, Teri’s commanding voice quelled the idea before it could spread. “All right. Turn in your ropes and sit in a circle!”

The rest of the class was spent playing a game to learn about the different parts of the heart. And before we knew it, class was over and our students raced out of the room.

“Bye, Miss,” they yelled in chorus. “See you next week!”

Nicole, Teri, and I looked at each other, exhaustion etched into our faces, the words “next week” echoing in our ears. “Sounds great,” we yelled back.

-Alison Kjeldgaard


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