Stuck in the Middle: No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem?
Once or twice a year at North Saanich, the maintenance department sends two employees up on our roof wearing steel toe boots, orange vests, and hard hats on a nice sunny day. Their job is to get things off the roof. They come down with a bounty of balls, frisbee's, and various toys and stuffed animals. For safety reasons, school personnel are not allowed up there without permission and proper safety protocols in order.
So if something goes up there, it takes a while before we get it back.
Last week one of our students came to the office and asked if we could get a bouncy ball down from the roof that they had accidentally tossed up there while playing. The answer was yes, but it will take a while for the maintenance department to find time to go up there. She left with her friends, but you could tell the wheels in her brain were turning.
She came back ten minutes later and said, "I am not sure if I thought this through enough, but now my shoe is up there as well?"
"Your shoe?" Mrs. Tamburino responded. Now, this is the kind of stuff that makes working at a middle school special. "How did that happen?"
She continued while I couldn't stop smiling. "I thought that if my shoe was up there as well, then someone might be more willing to go up and get the ball right away," she replied. My smile continued to grow.
Now more than ever, critical thinking is part of the BC curriculum. Critical and creative thinking are a big part of the Core Competencies that all students need to have and use to become more engaged in their learning. She definitely was creative with her thinking.
The next day our young lady showed up with her mom's shoes on to check in on her shoe and ball. She had a couple of other creative ideas to get the shoe and ball down that would not meet safety standards, but while she was in class into the school strode two maintenance employees wearing steel toe boots, orange vests and hard hats on a special mission to get a shoe off the roof. The ball was just a bonus.
I was surprised. Actually, I was shocked. Her critical and creative thinking skills had worked. What had made me laugh about the craziness of the adolescent brain had been wrong. She was right that having a shoe on the roof might get someone to get her ball down quicker. Look who's laughing now. Middle school kids seem always to get the last laugh.
When I was in middle school, my baseball or lacrosse ball often ended up on the roof of Dunsmuir School while playing with my friends. Our critical thinking skills back then are not appropriate anymore. Our strategy was for my friends Tom and Tim (the two biggest and strongest) to hoist me (the lightest) up on the roof. I figure we used Math skills to find the shortest route to the roof, science concepts to determine how much force to use to push me up, and physical education skills of strength and agility to pull myself up. In today's education, I would like to argue that I should have gotten some academic credit for climbing up on the roof to get the ball. At the time, I was just happy that my mom didn't know so that I didn't get in big trouble for being dangerous and stupid. At least she didn't know until now because she reads my Stuck in the Middle. Sorry, Mom! I am glad we are a safer society now, as I wouldn't want my kids climbing onto a school roof.
At North Saanich Middle School, balls and frisbee's occasionally end up on the school roof. The maintenance department will eventually get them down. If it is just a ball, it will have to wait until one of their semi-annual trips up on the roof. If it is something else, you might get faster services. As Kenny Chesney might say, "No Shoes, No Shirt, (because they are on the roof, then) No Problem, we will come and get them down for you. Our grade 7 student would sing back "What Blues, hey I forgot 'em" when I got my shoe back. I am not convinced it was smart thinking, but it was definitely creative thinking, and we will give her both academic and personal credit!
PS. Van Halen would make the students “Jump” to get the shoe back, so I thought I would do the same.
Caution to Potential Shoe Throwers: I am pretty sure the Maintenance Department is not going to fall for the shoe on the roof trick again.