Slice of Life: The Quidditch Fairness Doctrine

As I have mentioned before in Slice of Life, we play a version of Quidditch at our school (see the tutorial video we made a few years back) and March is the month where the Quidditch excitement takes hold for our sixth graders, as it leads to our 13th annual Quidditch Tournament in early April. Yesterday, we took our students to an indoor soccer arena for the entire school day, playing soccer and other games, but mostly focusing in on scrimmage matches of Quidditch between classes.

I love watching them play and my class did exceptionally well, working together, supporting each other and playing the game itself. It’s learning that won’t be found on next week’s standardized testing, that’s for sure.

The trickiest part for us, as teachers, to make sure the playing time is fair and equitable for everyone. It’s a lot of work, and I try to share with my students the tricky task of making sure that no one sits too long during the game (there are seven squads, each four minutes long). There are also some prime positions that most everyone wants to play (beater, chaser, seeker), and I need to make sure everyone gets some time at the positions they want to play. The larger the class, the harder that becomes.
Q Lineup Work

I think I must have spent about two hours working on the lineups for yesterday’s scrimmages. First, I take the requests that they make. Then, I pencil in a chart, marking off on another chart which position they are playing and in which squad. Then, I move those names over to a color-coded chart, which is also what I hang on the wall. Honestly, it is a pain in butt. But I don’t want anyone to feel cheated or left out.

That’s my Quidditch Fairness Doctrine: everybody plays.

We’ve had a few years where we have lost the big tournament because of my doctrine. I could  have easily stacked the decks with my athletes and let the non-athletes do very little. I refuse to do that, and if it means losing, I am OK with that. I want everyone to walk away from their special time with Quidditch (they look forward to it from preschool/kindergarten) and think, that was fun.

Of course, even with all my planning and cross-checking, sometimes things slip. Yesterday, one girl came up to me.

“I’m on the same squad twice, Mr. H, ” she said.


She brought me over and showed me the list. Sure enough, there she was as a seeker and a sidelines tosser. I looked at her and smiled.

“Did you bring your magic potion? That one that allows you to be in two places at one time?”

She laughed, and then we moved things around to straighten it out. And then they played. All of them.

Peace (on the Quidditch pitch),
PS — this is this year’s symbol for my team
Permafrost symbol

  1. Love the ‘fairness doctrine,’ and I’m glad you show your students how much time and effort goes in to the planning. I’m sure they appreciate your dedication to their enjoyment. It sounds like one of those days that students will remember forever.

  2. I love that it is about participation and teamwork, not winning. We had a Middle Sports Festival in a previous league with similar focus. Important lessons, that as you pointed out, won’t be on the test. However, I would argue that they are more important. Great lessons to be had on the Quidditch field.

  3. I love your doctrine. As the kid who was never good at sports I learned early on that my contributions were never wanted. I think I would have a different view on sports today if I’d been a part of your Quidditch team.

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