We just finished our first official unit, volleyball!
Because of the aforementioned strike, we had to condense the unit a bit. But even in these few weeks, we saw immense improvement not only in the girls’ (and the profes’) skills, but also in their confidence and persistence with the sport.
Most of the girls in class were familiar with volleyball, so in our first week of the unit, we jumped straight into learning how to serve. Especially for some of the younger girls, this was a daunting task that required plenty of encouragement and support. Even our older and more skilled girls struggled with serving and often grew frustrated. We worked tirelessly to teach them proper form while simultaneously encouraging them to find the way that worked for them.
There was an added element of difficulty in that neither Rachel nor I had been volleyball players. While we both had some experience playing volleyball in the park with our friends or during gym classes, teaching fundamental skills that we had never mastered ourselves presented a learning curve. We sometimes found ourselves attempting a demonstration and totally botching it. As a competitor, it was difficult to not be frustrated by my inability to show the girls exactly what a perfect overhand serve looks like.
It took time, patience, and resilience from the girls and profes
But by the last week of class, the girls were so excited when they rotated into the serving position during the game. Even the girls who struggled to get it over the net were giggling with excitement as they geared up, physically and mentally, to put all of their might into their underhand serve.
It was even more exciting and rewarding to see girls encouraging their fellow chicas dinámicas with si se puede, on both sides of the net. The camaraderie we have seen continuing to form between girls across grades and across friend groups is so much more valuable than the score at the end of the game or how many serves actually made it over.
At Santoni, the cancha is located in the neighborhood, not within the school grounds. This means that we frequently encounter spectators and fellow sports enthusiasts during class. In particular, there is a group of boys who we occasionally scrimmage after class, and the girls love it. On our last day of the volleyball unit, as we began to take down the net, both the chicas and chicos protested because they wanted to play one last game against one another.
All of the girls wanted to show off the new skills they learned in class! Throughout the game they made sure to call out the boys for breaking the rules and supported one another usually by sharing endless giggles through all of the dropped balls. While we may not have won this match, the girls definitely put up a tough fight.
After every week, I am reminded of how powerful these girls are when they bond and work together towards a common goal. Even if they don’t quite get there, they stay resilient, supportive, and consistently serve as a reminder to enjoy and trust the process.