Warm Up Joy

You have to give respect to get it!
Be the best you can be!
Play by the rules, be a winner!
Giraffe heroes stick their necks out for the common good!

The gymnasium at Rockcave Elementary School is papered with inspiring banners, all ending in ballooning exclamation points. I was particularly drawn to the talking giraffe urging kids to stick their necks out for the “common good,” which was kind of quaint in our “me first” society. Cool. Continuing to browse the banners, waiting for the kids to arrive and the assembly to start, I noticed a white board with hand written directions. Reading from the bottom up, it said
10 sprints
coffee grinders
and the first line, which I read (from across the room) to say, “Warm up Joy.”

I wasn’t sure what a coffee grinder was but I know a sprint and a windmill is pretty self explanatory — but what about this “warm up joy?” How cool is that? Not only has this school NOT followed the current trend to cancel gym class for phonics drills, but they are encouraging JOY.

Joy! Just the word lifted my spirit through the gym roof.

It didn’t even bother me too much when I realized I had misread the white board and what it actually said was “Warm up Jog.” Didn’t matter, the subliminal message stuck.

If I did not go into elementary schools, if I did not talk to elementary school children and hear their writing and see their pride and excitement, if I just read and believed the reports on children that I read in the newspapers, the reports from the greedy testing companies with feeder, scripted programs sold to schools to support their tests and the published achievement (or lack of achievement) numbers, I would believe those reports and never experience the daily, private, joy of kids learning together.

So, here’s the question — how do we slip more uplifting subliminal messages into our stressed out, over-tested, underfunded schools?

9 responses to “Warm Up Joy”

  1. Alissa Sgro says:

    Amen, sister!

    As an English teacher for 11 years, I can relate to what you wrote. It it becoming more and more difficult for teachers to see the joy in the situation. I often have to take a step back, regroup, and remind myself why I this vocation is for me. Then, I’m okay. There is much “joy” out there it kids. You don’t have to look too hard to find it, either. You just have to NOT look so hard at the other “stuff.”

    A. Sgro
    New Castle, PA

  2. Alissa Sgro says:

    I just spotted an error in my post. SO bad for an English teacher. Hey….we’re human.


  3. Hey, give yourself a break — I’m the one who misread jog as joy. Sometimes mistakes are a GOOD thing — unless of course you are being DIBELed, in which case we both would have been labled as deficient for the rest of our lives.

  4. Anonymous says:

    u are a bad writer

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi there,
    I like your poems and everything, I can’t wait to see you come to my school sometime. My favorite Book of poems by you is My Dog Ate My Homework, or atleast one of the poems I like is Alone, AND the one call The Gun, or something like that. You are a good writer and like I said I can’t wait to see you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Bye bye now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    your so tight man ilove all of your poems and the one called gun is so tottaly me and im going through a hard time right now with this guy named dakota workman and your poem love is great i love it bc it makes me feel better abt dakota so yea thanx alot

    miss kiss kiss bang bang,,,gun!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    lol hi


  9. Anonymous says:

    ILU <3

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