One of my many meaningless pastimes that run alongside my ‘teaching’ career is the throwing of paper balls. For this activity all that is required is a bin and a ball (rolled-up paper that is meant for the recycling. Oh, and you also need a classroom).
My activity follows a similar pattern: I mark or plan, I get bored marking or planning, I go into the recycling bin, fish out a piece of unwanted A4 and then screw it up into a rudimentary ball. It is important to spend a bit of time on this ball screwing business as a misshaped ball will not aid anyone. It’s all about aerodynamics.
Then it is time to take up position around the classroom. I personally like to stretch and challenge so place myself at the furthest extremities of the room. Just make sure that there are no blockages or impediments that may mitigate towards a completely unsuccessful attempt at the bin. On this point, be certain that the bin is sufficiently empty or the said ball will pop out just as quickly as it pops in. And, unless you are partial to table-enders, ensure that there are no offending desks in line with your potential flight-paths.
As Robert the Bruce was fond of saying, if at first, or third, or sixty-fifth you don’t succeed try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try,,,,,,,,infinitum. The law of averages must kick in at some point.
If you are like me, a tempter of fate, you will most likely try out your new obsession in front of a class.
To get the feel of the big arena, wander aimlessly about the room with a pre-screwed paper ball in your hand. Don’t make a show of it. Have the kids working on a quiet working task. As they are writing away, measure you aim. Have the odd shot without making it obvious that that is what you are doing. Look casual. Look relaxed. Appear unconcerned. You will miss. You may even miss all of your shots, but you will be getting valuable practice in without really trying.
Only when you feel that you are getting within range should you announce, in a jokey kind of way, that you are going for a bin-shot. If you miss, produce a mock-sports commentary that captures the drama of your failed attempt. Remember that your audience must believe that this a trivial fun event and nothing that you truly care about.
After three to four years, you will get to be quite good at this. And even if you don’t always hit or get near the bin, it is part of your training. Eventually you will be able to hit, or close-miss, the bin in front of even the most hostile of crowds. You will be able to lay down challenges to students and defeat them. You will have the right to run around them celebrating your superiority whilst mocking there failed attempts.
Paper-ball Ninja Master Number 1…