Friday, April 26, 2013

Recess Duty

I've enjoyed this month's recess duty because I'm on the basketball courts behind the high school building. At lunch-recess there is plenty of action to watch so the time passes relatively quickly. There are four nets and each net has a character of its own.

The net farthest away from supervision (I'll call it Court 1) is usually filled with 12th grade boys but yesterday, for some reason, fourth or fifth grade students took over the court. (I would not have had the courage at that age to even set foot on high school territory, but more power to them.) The thing that made me smile about this game was that it consisted of 9 boys and 1 girl making it one of the few, if only, basketball games I've seen since arriving in Turkey being played with mixed genders. The girl was really cute - long pony tail, glasses, and laughing/smiling the whole time. The boys didn't seem to notice she was wearing a skirt. They played hard, and said the score out loud (good chance for me to practice listening to Turkish) after every basket for the entire 40 minute break.

The next net  (Court 2) consisted of the less-than-fit boys. With shirts untucked, shoes untied, beads of sweat pouring off their brows and frequent trips to the water fountain, these boys are the "low energy" court - an occasional dribble, an occasional reach for a rebound, and lots of free-throw practice. If the ball bounces in their direction- and they generally space themselves around the next like shot positions in a game of "Horse" to prevent the ball from rolling too far away- they will take a shot.

Court 3 is always- probably an unwritten playground rule- the athletes, the good basketball players, the "jocks". They've mastered the art of "hang time". They like to try and grab the rim. They stroll away from a basket like it's a "given" their shot will go in. Court 3 usually consists of 9th grade boys. Their opponents tend to be one grade older or one to two grades younger. (How do they pass the word about game-time three buildings away?) Anyway, yesterday's game looked like 9th grade v. 7th grade. Of course, 9th dominated. Their height alone gave them the advantage in rebounds, and of course, their age meant they had been playing longer, but it was a good game. There were several 7th graders who were jumping like grasshoppers often cutting off passes or deflecting rebounds. The 7th graders had a point guard who was seeing opportunities, calling plays and making the 9th graders work. It was fun to watch.

The last net (Court 4) is closest to where I stand, although I do make periodic walk-arounds to keep things interesting. This is the court that changes weekly. This is the court that makes me nervous. This is the court where I'm glad the PE teacher makes random "walk-bys" because I can't figure out what's going on but my gut feeling tells me that sometimes things are "not right". Is it friendly play or is it bullying? I they "being nice" or "making someone the object of a joke." This is the court where some kids sit on the periphery. They look like they want to play but seem to be included only in that they get to shag balls or enter the "out-of-bounds" areas to fetch a ball that "just happened" to go over the fence. This is the court of confusion. And, with my language difficulities, I can't communicate what I think is going on. So, I give uncomfortable stares and proximity control.

Even though the language is different, the children at their different development ages, seem to be the same. And, it's enjoying seeing children be children that makes recess duty fun.

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