What Ms. Fitz Taught on the Playground that Day
By now you have likely seen the viral video of Ms. Fitzpatrick on the recess playground. A young third grade teacher, she mingles on the playground with her students. She decides to join in the fun. With a basketball, she promises her students hot chocolate if she lands the net. The video is pure joy and went viral. Here it is: (Guardian News)
When you first see the distance, you think, no way is she going to get that in the hoop. Likely, many of her students thought the same, but they had hope and cheered her on.
This experience on the playground is so far beyond many of the tasks Ms. Fitz is required to teach her students inside the building. Here, on the playground, in a few short moments, however, she teaches them important real life skills.
Take risks. Was it a risk for Ms. Fitz to offer hot chocolate to her kids? Was it a risk for her to take the shot? Do you know how hard it would be to manage those darned kids if she hadn’t made the shot? She demonstrated to the students that trying something is worthwhile. Putting yourself out there may lead to something extraordinary. She modeled courage. Will those students take more risks in their lives after watching Ms. F model the behavior? You bet they will. Some will take risks on the basketball court. Others will take it into the classroom. They will extend the lesson beyond the playground to other areas of their lives.
Imagine. Without imagining the possibility of what she could do, Ms. F could never make the shot. She modeled asking “what if” and “why not?”. These are key innovation questions. Without imagination, we would not have a vaccine for covid-19. Disney’s Epcot would not exist. Or how about an AI Spiderman at the Marvel Universe? What if Ms. Fitz can make that shot? Then what? What if it is possible? If she can do that, then who knows what else is possible? Students will forever imagine after that experience.
Play. Ms. F was playing when she took the shot. Children are often taught that “play” is only recess. “Play” ends when you grow up. “Play” is not something you continue throughout your life. Yet in reality, play is crucial to solving problems, innovating, and collaborating. In fact, Stuart Brown who authored the book, Play, details how play shapes our brain and supports overall well-being over the course of our entire lives. Without playing with ideas, scientists may not have sent man to the moon. Ms. Fitz showed students play is an important part of life.
Celebrate successes. The final piece in the video is perhaps the most heartwarming of all. Ms. Fitz and the children all begin to celebrate her success. While she jumps up and down with glee, the children all rally around her and scream in delight. We do not always take time to sit with our successes. The joy doing so brings in this moment with Ms. Fitz’s class is overwhelming. Students learn the beauty of reveling in our accomplishments together.
Sure, Ms. Fitz teaches her students all of the basic school subjects. They learn reading, math, and writing. She likely has projects for them to complete in the classroom which require collaboration and participation. Yet what she taught them on the playground that day will live with them forever.