Half my lessons were cancelled last week so that the students could practice for Sports Day on Friday. A couple of students from each class would come to me, half an hour before their lesson was due to start, for permission to continue skipping practice instead. I’d pretend to think about it and then say ‘Ohhh, alright then’.  Their faces would light up, they’d thank me ardently before leaving, and I’d return to drinking tea and reading my book.  What can I say?  I choose to use my power for the good of all.

That situation lasted for a few days until I received a text from the captain of class 3:5, saying that I was to join their team for some sporting activities.  This scheme was initiated by my co-teacher who has taken it upon himself to offer me as many experiences of school life as possible. So it was that I swopped my teacher shoes for trainers, marked my book and went to learn dodge ball and a stick-jumping race.

Together each class had chosen their team outfit from an online site. Kitted out in a red t-shirt I scooted up to the big city gymnasium fearing a little that I would be the lone teacher participant in the sporting events. I was reassured by the sight of male teachers in their fifties sporting anything from silky pink, polka-dot trousers to Hawaiian skirts, while giving serious team pep-talks.

Along with these wonderful team costumes, what struck me most about the day was the absence of individual competitions. Arm wrestling was the only one on one game, and players were always surrounded by their own class cheering them on. All the others were team games – even the one running race was relay – everybody participated, and everyone seemed to be invested in the outcome.

At the end of the day my “Threeee – Fii-ive!” team were number one in the third grade, and won the 50 dollar first prize. I can safely say that this can in no way be credited to my dodge ball skills.