In Jill's Words

I dedicate this site to my mother. She was a columnist and an author with the uncanny ability to find humor in the daily ins and outs of life. She faced every challenge with a witty optimism, including the cancer that ended her life too soon.

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Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Folk Dance Week (RE-POST from 5/24/14)

This is a post I wrote two years ago about one of my favorite annual traditions. I decided to post it again because the P.E. teacher with whom I have been collaborating all of this time is retiring. We have been quite emotional about this final Folk Dance Unit of ours. This year, I would add that our fourth and fifth graders were some of the most enthusiastic square dancers we have ever had. The were such a joy. What a great and meaningful end to our year! Enjoy the re-post!

Teachers often need a pick-me-up around this time of the year. I find that focusing on the most entertaining aspect of my career—the kids—is a good way to maintain my sanity (or insanity?) during the last few days of school.

This is for my teacher friends, especially you music teacher friends. We all need to remember the positives in our profession from time to time.

Around the last two weeks of school, the P.E. teacher and I combine our classes and teach the kids old-fashioned longways set dances and square dances. Once we get past the initial "Eww! I'm not holding his/her hand" (which doesn't last long for us veteran teachers), it's actually a delightful way to close out the year.

1. One of the older boys had to be my partner the first day. He moaned and carried on in the beginning.

"Admit it. You dig being my square dance partner."

"Nooooo . . . "

Yesterday, after square dancing all week, he ran over to me and said, "Mrs. Duggan, come on. You were my partner the last time!"

2. We combined my kindergarten class with the fifth grade P.E. class. One of the most difficult students exclaimed, "Yes!" when he saw the little kids walk in. A couple of minutes later, he was enthusiastically do-si-doing with a girl who came up to his hip.

3. Throughout the week, girls started wearing "flippy dresses" to folk dance classes.

4. When one of my third grade classes realized they couldn't dance in the gym due to scheduling differences, they were very disappointed.

"But we only got to dance once, Mrs. Duggan!"

So we shoved the risers back and spent the class folk dancing in my oddly shaped music room.

5. One of my students was having a bad morning the other day.

"Oh well," she said. "At least I have folk dancing to look forward to this afternoon."

This isn't specifically about folk dancing, but it was a hilarious end to our week. At the end of our final session, we mentioned that we would be out of school this Monday for Memorial Day. Our assistant principal was dancing with us that afternoon (because our administrators love folk dance week too).

The kids turned to the assistant principal and said in unison, "Thanks, Mrs. Anderson!"

"Wow!" she said, as we cracked up. "They think I have a lot of power!"

"Yeah," I said. "They think you're like God or something!"

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