Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Granting Balance

Anyone who has worked in a non-profit capacity knows all about grants. Grants are free money. All you need to do is have an idea, explain it to the satisfaction of those who have dollars to give and do so more quickly and loudly than all the other people who have also had an idea. Suddenly, you have the means to make your concept a reality! Or you don't. Sometimes it doesn't work out. But that's how you play the game and losing is just a part of it.

My school district loves grants. We often have workshops in how to write bigger and better grants. Grants grease the wheels of learning in my world. We revere the grant writing process and have no qualms whatsoever about writing them for the least little thing.

Sometimes, though, an idea slips through that is just too stupid for words. That or it is so brilliant that I'm a little jealous for not thinking of it myself.

Last spring a real hum-dinger of a grant made it through the gauntlet and monies were released unto us for a rather "interesting" experiment. We were all informed of this miracle in a staff meeting and told to expect a large delivery the next day. Sure enough, the big trucks came and many boxes were dropped off in the lobby. What was in those boxes you ask? Well...let me tell you:

Large, bouncy balls. Lots of them.

You know the kind I mean. They're the really big ones that you find in gyms or the living rooms of certain Sheep who are trying to lose their summer pounds. Sometimes they are called "exercise balls." They are big. They are blue. And now they are all over my school.

With health and fitness becoming more of an issue for young people, one of our teachers decided to try writing a grant which would allow her students to sit on big bouncy balls instead of chairs. Staff could also access these magical spheres should they so desire. The exercise ball has long been used to help strengthen core muscles and even sitting on one is enough to provide a bit more calorie burn. The theory here is sound. And, since there were to be clear classroom rules around their use, I actually think it's a pretty cool idea.

Further, anyone who has worked with younger children who have motor control and distraction issues will probably be familiar with "the wiggle seat." This is a small inflatable disc that goes on the student's chair and which is weighted rather oddly. The child is kept just slightly off-balance and the excess motor movements normally used for fidgeting are channeled towards sitting. It works brilliantly and most kids love them.

With the older kids, I see great potential for the bouncy balls in classrooms. Better focus...an increase in core muscle use...it's all good.

Except that now you never know when you are going to turn a corner and find a staff person on a bouncy ball. There is just something about that sight, especially if you are unprepared for it, that seems a little "off." You think you'd get used to it. That you will somehow be better prepared for it after a while.

It doesn't work that way.

To make matters worse, not everyone is necessarily of an age where this sort of thing looks dignified. There are some for whom balance is not a gift and who will need to work a little harder to remain safely centered on their bouncy ball. This can be particularly disturbing if you don't know that they are sitting on a bouncy ball because they happen to be behind a desk.

Take for example a certain teacher we all know. She may go into the Principal's office to discuss with him a rather serious matter and they may be very much engrossed in the details of this troubling situation. Suddenly and without any warning whatsoever, the principal might begin frantically bouncing up and down and rubbery squeaking noises might begin emanating from beneath his desk. There may also be a bit of arm waving involved because middle aged men should really practice sitting on bouncy balls before they try to do it in public or in front of their staff. I might also suggest that a look of panic will cross his countenance as he realizes that he may soon be unseated and that his bouncy ball may roll away.

This, of course, will be too much for the teacher. She will bury her face in her hands and say softly, "I'm sorry. I just can't do this. It's too much..."

Some grants should be written with care and the consequences more carefully considered. If every time someone goes into an office to speak of serious matters there is a big rubber ball involved, the whole educational machine could grind to a halt. Quickly. And with a great deal of squeaking. Education as we know it could become a highly endangered animal and we'll have no one to blame but bouncy balls and grants. And poorly coordinated school administrators.

I'm giving some thought to knitting again someday soon. Maybe even in the near future. It would be nice to return to the blog theme for a bit. But for now, I'm just going to take a minute to recover from the grant writing.

Is it wrong for me to want one of those bouncy balls for my own office?

SA

20 comments:

PICAdrienne said...

The question comes to mind, did you snort when he almost was unseated by his bouncy ball? Because to tell the truth, I almost snorted reading about it.

Karen said...

Yes. Get a ball. And to tell you the truth I want one too.

Teri S. said...

The image of the principal almost losing it on his bouncy ball made me laugh out loud. And yes, you should get one. However, I can envision games of dodge ball with those bouncy balls...

GiM said...

Those balls are fantastic. I use a whole one lifting weights and a half one for standing balance. They really work. Get one for your room if you can. But, a word of caution, they can be a little dangerous if not supervised while being used

Anonymous said...

I can just imagine what Mommy and Daddy sheep think of the bouncy ball experiment.

Auntie Sheep

trek said...

I couldn't even read this out loud to Number Guy - I made him come read it over my shoulder.

I have a big bouncy ball. It is blue. It is in the bedroom. I haven't used it in quite some time and it is kind of dusty. Nonetheless, I am now seriously thinking about whether or not it would be a good idea to plant it in front of my computer.

I do not have school administrator balance issues.

My word verification is "ashiss" - this is just too topical.

Lorraine said...

ROFLOL! My cat is wondering what's wrong with me, now that tears are rolling down my face and I'm snorting uncontrollably.

kmkat said...

::gigglesnort::

Anonymous said...

ahhh ha! The jealousy of the bouncy ball hehehe. Actually, a friend of mine at work used one of those for a while, for about a month - she's all into exercise and fitness.. but after a few weeks she went back to a regular chair.. she said she just felt the need to have something to lean against.

Good luck!!
mia

Betsy said...

I think that you could write a grant requesting color coded balls...blue for students, green for teachers, red for administrators, purple for "staff", etc. Or perhaps blue for those that can balance and black and blue for those that can't...the possibilities are endless...and amusing.

Anne said...

Not at all - but I have to warn you sitting on one will make your core muscles hurt for a while. Ask me how I know.....

Donna Lee said...

One of the psychiatrists I work with had a large green bouncy ball and she sat on it behind her desk while she met with patients. It was amusing to watch her keep her balance as she sat and then had to keep standing up to retrieve things from the printer. It was the best part of my day.

Deirdre said...

This is a *terrific* idea. Great use of grant money!

debsnm said...

Have you ever considered a career in writing? You spin a story brilliantly! It was all I could do to not let the entire office hear me hysterically laughing. Brava!

Julie said...

Now I want a bouncy ball.

knitseashore said...

I would think you are kidding, but you're not! I cannot imagine a principal on a bouncy ball, issuing detention or suspension, but maybe it works.

trek said...

I've been using my blue bouncy ball as a desk chair today. It's been interesting but is making me sit up straighter. I shall post updates accordingly.

Kath said...

Oh yes, I think you do need a bouncy ball. And you need to take it home on the weekend and share it with AGK. 'Cause that would be truly priceless!

(I am assuming that BFK would find a bouncy ball entirely too foolish and undignified.)

Knitting Linguist said...

OK, drat you. I just read that bit about your principal while sitting next to my husband on a conference call on speaker phone. There was nearly a disaster, I tell you.

Betsy said...

Sheepie...Kim Komando just sent out this site...
http://www.donorschoose.org/
I found out my own school district doesn't even know about it...nor where my daughter teaches...

First "week" over...ENJOY the weekend even if you sleep and mumble through it...