California Educator

May / June 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 22 of 59

"Good job, nice try," they call cheerfully to their team- mates. Differences of opinion about whether the ball is in or out are settled with a game of rock-paper-scissors. ere are lots of high fives. Recess wasn't always such an enjoyable experience at the school, located in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, recalls fifth-grade teacher Raquel Williams, who is enjoying a friendly game of volleyball with stu- dents. In the past, there were frequent arguments on the playground. ey carried over into the classroom, which interfered with learning, says the United Teachers Los Angeles member. Things changed for the better with help from Play- w ork s, an O akl an d-b a sed n onprof it organi zation p a r t n e r i n g w i t h e d u c a t o r s t o provide safe, healthy and fun play during recess. "Students here are definitely hap- pier," says Williams. "Before, if they were out, it was the end of the world. Now they offer each other encouragement. No one is sit- ting out and being sedentary. It's much better. " Fifth-grader Ethan Dodson is one of several junior coaches trained by Playworks staff. He encourages peers to participate in games and helps them resolve playground problems peacefully. The positive vibe extends beyond the school yard and into the classroom, he observes. "Everyone has respect for the game and each other," he says. "I used to have friends who argued over a pencil in class. But now they do rock-paper-scissors to work it out." LaVal Brewer, executive director of Playworks South- ern California overseeing 53 participating schools, says teachers constantly thank him for providing them more instructional time by ensuring peaceful play. "Before, kids would be arguing when the bell rang and not get over it. e first thing they'd do when they got LaVal Brewer, executive director of Playworks Southern California, plays with students at Joyner Elementary. Brewer oversees recess and physical activity at 53 schools. Ethan Dodson, a Playworks junior coach at Joyner Elementary, gets ready to hand out "Good Job" tickets to fellow students. Emmanuel Viray and David Hernandez play basketball during their recess break at Tara Hills Elementary in San Pablo. 21 May / June 2016

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - May / June 2016