Draper Location:

88 W. 13100 S

Draper, UT 84020

Rec. Ctr. Location

5350 W. Herriman Main St.

Herriman, UT 84096


We All Participate In Our Own Ways

By: Tamara Bailie

Many years ago, I was chosen to be in an elementary school group where they would give us an extra book to read and then pull us out of class to discuss it as a group. It was a group intended to challenge kids who could read easily. I loved to read, and I enjoyed the extra reading time, so I was happy to be given an extra book to read during class.

When the time came for the first discussion group, the teacher put our desks in a circle and told us all that she was going to keep track of who participated. The teacher ended up sitting in the desk next to me, and I watched as she wrote down the name of each child who contributed to the discussion. Because the kids all knew she was writing names down, many of them raised their hands and offered comments that either did or didn’t contribute to the topic at hand, just so the teacher would write their names. Other times, the teacher would call on people and ask them questions and then write their names down. I sat there quietly, listening to the conversation, making my own opinions, having my own discussion in my head depending on whether or not I agreed with the other comments, and not saying a word. The teacher never called on me, and I was relieved.

The next time we all met again to discuss another book, the teacher announced to the class that everyone had participated, except me. She said she must have forgotten about me because I was being so quiet. All the eyes in the circle of desks turned to look at me, and I felt my cheeks get hot as I looked down at my desk. The teacher told the class how important it was that we participate so she knew we were listening and paying attention and to show that we understood what we were reading.

Even as this much-younger version of myself, I knew that she was making an assumption there. I had been listening closely. I had been paying attention. I was following along with the discussion and having opinions and ideas and thoughts about it all, I simply didn’t raise my hand and share what was going on in my head.

Sometimes we participate out loud, and sometimes we participate quietly.

I always remembered how humiliated I felt at the teacher’s implication that because I had been quiet, I must not have been listening or paying attention or understanding the conversation. I took that lesson with me as I grew up, and I have often thought of that when working with students at the gym.

At Bailie’s, we believe that participation in the activity of gymnastics is good for all children, regardless of their age or skill level. We also believe, as our friend Steve Greeley puts it, that EVERYONE is welcome to join in our Reindeer Games.

Some of our students participate by being the first one up on the highest balance beam, eager to show what they’ve been learning. Some are more comfortable on a lower beam, or on a line on the floor, which for them is their own version of being high in the air. And some kids may watch the whole beam workout and not touch a single beam, and then go home and try the new balance on a line on their floor where no one else is watching.

There are so many ways to participate, and so many places to do it. We believe in giving each student his or her own space and time to participate in whatever way makes the most sense to that child that day. Showing up is participating. Being brave enough to try something new is participating. Trying something again after a stumble or a fall is participating. Observing someone else’s successes or mis-steps is participating.

We’re all learning in our own ways, and we’re all getting where we’re going at our own pace. When we have people around us who can see where we are and who know that there are so many ways to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we start feeling more confident and more understood, and less forgotten. By being allowed to participate in a space that feels most comfortable, we’re giving our students permission to be who they are, and we love them all just like that.

Thank you for choosing Bailie’s Gymnastics. We appreciate the privilege of working with your children.