Monday, August 1, 2011

Welcome to TEAM BRING IT!

Monday August 1, 2011... the day I decided to bring it. After hearing Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's formation of Team Bring It, I have decided to declare my allegiance to Team Bring It where I promise to work hard to achieve anything I desire and above all I promise each and every day to BRING IT.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jack & Kate + 8 -- Circle of Life

Whether it was the thrill of the outdoors or the challenge of a hike or paddle, less than one year after my two-week outdoor education experience at Raquette Lake I had returned to the Adirondacks once again! However, this time I would be on the other side of the table. From June 6, 2011 - June 18, 2011 I served as a staff assistant for PED 308. Going from student to staff was certainly a tedious transition as I still had much to explore and wonder about the Adirondacks. I was however in good company with Emerald 'Emmie' Doin as my fellow staff assistant. Perhaps the best part of this experience was the ability to view the course through a fresh pair of eyes. Everyone was new to the outdoors and uncertain and that gave me a role to guide them and help where available.

Unlike my experience where I went on the 'High Peaks Technical' rock climbing trip, this time it would be mostly paddling with Kate 'KB' Hovey. The experience was extremely worthwhile. I had gained some very close friends and strengthened bonds with others. And while we did not have a camera, the memories are those that will last a life-time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Lifetime of Decisions

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Life is full of choices. We make our decisions based upon what we hear, how we feel, and what we see. This past Saturday, I came to the end of a road that I had chosen four years ago. Looking back, I am beyond satisfied with the decision to take the path I had just completed. One cannot regret the decisions they make otherwise they are doomed to cope with them for eternity. As stated, I may have come to the end of a road but I now come to a crossroads with many different paths available for me to take. It can be intimidating. Each path has its pros and cons. You can gain some and you can lose some. Before rushing into my future, I need to weigh all of the possible outcomes of the various paths laid out before me. I need to make the decision that will most benefit me. And it is never too late to turn back. I have gained such an amazing support system of friends and colleagues and I cannot imagine a future without them. Even though their role in my life may be reduced, their impact is plentiful and long lasting. So as I look out toward the future I know several things; make an impact, become successful, but above all, become happy and live life to it's fullest. After all, we only have but one live.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

To Making it Count...

Make Each Day Count
Well, yes, ma'am, I do... I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson (Titanic, 1997)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Day 31 (66) - Monday May 16, 2011

This would be the beginning of the final three-day stretch of student teaching. It is simply astonishing how quickly time has gone. In not but five days I will be graduating with my degree in physical education. However, before we can get there, there are three more fun-filled days at Ridge Elementary School teaching kindergarten and first grade. This week, we would begin the testing of the shuttle run for the President's Challenge Physical Fitness test on the second day of class. On the first day, I made sure to explain, thoroughly, once again how to perform the shuttle run and tips for being successful. It is always interesting to note that the children will immediately cheer for the student who is in first but not for the one in second. I made sure to note that students are simply running against the clock and not each other. Therefore, everyone had an equal opportunity to win and be successful. I also stress that cheering people on means to cheer on everyone. This enlightened the students to cheer for all of their classmates leading to improved performance. It is important to note these humanistic behaviors and address them as such. This can help develop and create positive sportsmanship within all children at a very young age for them to carry through the rest of their lives.
Saying goodbye to someone can be a very difficult task. None more difficult than saying it to a group of kindergarten children. For one class, it was my last day as their teacher. I made sure to give them a meaningful and thoughtful closure that they could help bring forth to their parents and families. Strangely, it was their sadness that made me happy. They had become so accustomed to me and welcoming that they were upset to see me go. And I was equally upset to part with them as well.

Day 32 (67) - Tuesday May 17, 2011
After a week and a half of non-stop practice, it was time to begin testing for the shuttle run component of the President's Challenge within some of the classes. The students were understandably nervous because they had not had an extended amount of practice but enough that we the teachers were confident in their abilities to perform the test accurately. In order to model the proper way to run the assessment for the class, Ms. Hinton assessed their abilities on the test while I observed and acted as the field judge for any potential disqualifications. It is interesting to note that even after repeated practice and constant feedback that the children are still making the same repeated errors. They only have two opportunities to perform the test and it is nerve-racking for both them and me to see these errors happen. However, since this is the test, I am confident they will 'wake-up' and fix these errors on their second attempt.
In our adapted physical education class, today's thunder proved to be quite the distraction. Some students became frightened with the noise. As the teacher, along with the one-on-ones, we were able to calm the students down and continue our scooter activities. One may not know what can scare a children so the teacher must be ready to act on their toes.
My goodbyes to the students continued through today and they were not any easier. It is always sad to say goodbye but it makes me feel very good when the students tell me that they are going to miss me. To me, it signifies that I was able to make an impact big enough to affect them. This is truly what teaching is all about.

Day 33 (68) - Wednesday May 18, 2011
It is difficult to say goodbye but no scenario is more difficult than to say goodbye to groups of kindergarten and first grade students after eight weeks of being their teacher. Today was my last day during my student teaching experience at Ridge Elementary School. It is rather sad to go from the school. The students and faculty have all been very welcoming and I could not have asked for a better placement here and in the district in general. As a final closure to each class, I discussed their futures using the book 'Oh the Places You'll Go!' by Dr. Seuss. I described how they can do anything as long as they try and that in 2022 and 2023 respectively, I will know that my Ridge munchkins graduated from Longwood High School and be excited about all the places they will go. As I graduate from SUNY Cortland this Saturday, I look forward to my future as well, and all the places I will go during my journey.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Munchkins are Running! The Munchkins are Running!

Day 26 (61) - Monday May 9, 2011
This would be the final full week at Ridge Elementary School and of my student teaching experience in general. It is almost unbelievable that it went to fast. Nonetheless, it was my time. All of the classes this week were mine to teach. Ms. Hinton put the grade-book and President's Challenge score sheets in my hands and it was all me this week. I was very excited to begin the week. I have been looking forward to the opportunity to display all of the skills I had acquired. I made sure that we caught up on all of the testing that had already been completed before continuing any further. This would be the first day to introduce the shuttle run to many of the classes. Ms. Hinton modeled it for the first class and I went from there. I knew that for all of the students, repetition in both observing and participating would facilitate the knowledge acquisition. Many students had never seen the shuttle run so it was vital to go over everything. When it came time for them to practice, I was surprised at how well each of them was able to complete the task. I made sure to use simple directions so that they would be able to comprehend the material and it seemed to have worked extremely well. Even though the times were a little high, it is still early in the practice stages and the students have six classes of practice before taking the test. I will ensure that each lesson is meaningful and conductive to the improvement of their abilities.

Day 27 (62) - Tuesday May 10, 2011
As I sat there transcribing the times for the quarter-mile run onto the President's Challenge score sheet, Ms. Hinton walked into the office with a familiar face. My student teaching supervisor, Terry Phelan, dropped by for my final observation of my student teaching experience. We did not a class for quite a bit of time so we spent some time having a conversation about various topics. It was nice to have this time to talk as I rarely have the opportunity to sit down and speak with him face-to-face. As we looked at the clock, it was time for class. He would be observing a class with some behavioral concerns but nothing more than any other class. I introduced the shuttle run and allowed the students to practice within the lesson. It went rather well and Terry commended me on a job well done. For the last six weeks, I have been only receiving feedback from Ms. Hinton to improve my teaching skills so it was nice to receive praise from another source indicating my improvements with her. The entire day was not as easy. At the end of the day, the first grade class was acting very silly and not listening to directions. When we came in from outside, we sat in silence after a lecture on listening to directions. It is important to stop a class before things get out of hand. If you give kids an inch they will take a yard. It is very important to identify parameters to facilitate instruction.

Day 28 (63) - Wednesday May 11, 2011
To teach physical education does not simply entail the teaching of physical skills and their application. A physical education teacher has the same responsibility of any other teacher; to teach the students virtues and character. During one of the classes, we went outside to run the quarter-mile as we normally would. One of the alternative learning classes was on the playground at the same time. There was no problem with this as neither class would wind up crossing paths with the other. However, some of the children would laugh and make comments about the students also outside. When we came inside, I sat everyone down on the mat and discussed the situation I observed outdoors. It is important at Ridge Elementary School to combat bullying at all costs. Many students wear shirts indicating their commitment to the pledge. I told them that all children are differently-abled but that they are all the same. It is their differences that make each child special and strong and weak. I made sure to note that each student needs to treat others the way they would like to be treated. After letting this sink in for a few minutes, I continued with class. It is very important to use these teachable moments in class. It is critical for students to understand and comply with this topic to create a safe and healthy learning environment.

Day 29 (64) - Thursday May 12, 2011
The annual Ridge Munchkin Run would finally be held today in the late afternoon! However, before we could get to that, there was lots of practice to be held for the shuttle run in physical education class. In order to allow ample time to set up the Munchkin Run, Ms. Hinton moved two of the afternoon classes into the morning thus creating two back-to-back double classes, both kindergarten. It was my task to manage these classes and to get as many students as possible to practice the shuttle run. We had four stations therefore four children could go at any given time. After a review of the shuttle run procedures, we were ready to begin. I let two children from one class run on one side and two from the other run on the opposite side. I was able to get each student to run at least once. Those who were watching had the ability to note mistakes and were given the opportunity to speak of what they had seen. This was very important for kindergarten students are they need repetition in performing the task and observing the task in order to become successful.
When it came time for the Munchkin Run, the students were more than excited to run. All of the first grade classes, administration, and parents came to watch the race and that made for a very exciting and positive environment. Each student who competed received a medal and a certificate and were applauded by their classmates. Activities like this are very important to hold as a teacher. It brings the school and the community together in a positive setting. I am very happy to have been a part of the Munchkin Run and look to explore similar activities in my future as a teacher!

Day 30 (65) - Friday May 13, 2011
As we came to the end of my last full week at Ridge Elementary School, it proved to be a very light workload. The kindergarten students had a field trip to the Holtsville Ecology Center and therefore three of the seven classes today would not take place. I used this time to finish up transcribing all of the results of the President's Challenge that had been obtained thus far. In honor of my birthday, Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Hinton took me out to lunch and we had a nice little conversation and bonding experience before returning back to the school. It is very nice to have colleagues who become friends as well as co-workers. It makes the job more fun and enjoyable plus you have a friend in which to confide in. As the day drew to a close, the kindergarten students returned from their trip. The last two classes of the day were filled with kindergarten children exhausted from their trip. Their teacher informed me that they walked over one mile just before they left and their little legs were tired! This was immediately apparent in physical education class; however, I immediately switched to entertainer mode and got them up and moving for the thirty minutes. They did the best they could and certainly earned a paw print for the day. It is very understandable that very young children can easily tire from physical activity. As the teacher, I need to take this into consideration and motivate them to do the best that their little bodies will allow them!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Who Wants to be Strong? Wii Want to be Strong!

Day 21 (56) - Monday May 2, 2011

In 1983, the United States Congress declared the month of May as 'National Physical Education and Sports Month.' As Longwood director of physical education Gina Curiale made note to the district's physical education teachers, the first week in May would be 'National Physical Education and Sport Week'. Together with Ms. Hinton, we developed a simple outline for the week to integrate physical activity into the classroom with the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. This would be known at the Ridge Primary Center Fitness Week. Through this, we hope to have the classroom teachers and the administrators within the building become advocates for physical education during the month of May and beyond. When I earn my own teaching job, I become the unofficial physical activity director of the school building. I need to explore new means in which to excite students about physical education and make it more inviting for all to participate. Today in class I announced my commitment to the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA). I decided that if they children will be taking the President's Challenge, then I should join them by taking a fitness challenge as well. By sharing this information with them, I hope to inspire them to work for their goals. After all, I need to practice what I preach.
In athletics, the Longwood Lady Lions track and field team defeated the William Floyd Lady Colonials track and field team. This was a extra special meet is it placed myself and my good friend Patrick Wingler against one another as 'coaches'. While it was fun to see Patrick, it was even better to see the Lady Lions improve to 4-0 on the season!

Day 22 (57) - Tuesday May 3, 2011
As we continued our President's Challenge assessment, I was looking for different ways in which to get the students active while I was assessing. Initially, we tried stations but that did not work out too well. There was too much action going on at one time that I was unable to focus on assessing the student and paying attention to the rest of the class. Our next attempt was to have students simply watch their classmates go one at a time. While this was the best way to observe everyone, it tended to be a little boring for some students. Today, I decided it was time to reintroduce a few stations as well as the Wii Fit! Even though these students are in kindergarten and first grade, they are all very familiar with the Wii Fit system and games (even more than I was!) Needless to say, once they saw the television the students became very excited about their being able to play the game. All was going well until some student became upset that they were unable to hold the remote and did not have a chance to play as long as others. At the end of the day I decided to only reintroduce the Wii Fit at random or different times in order to make it more special. Technology is a driving force in today's society and we as educators need to use it to our advantage when teaching. Students of all ages are very familiar with various forms of technology and are always willing to learn more. In order to create a stimulating and entertaining learning environment, the teacher must evolve with technology.

Day 23 (58) - Wednesday May 4, 2011
After six weeks at Ridge Elementary School learning the ropes and practicing my teaching skills in different classes, Ms. Hinton placed me at the helm of the classes being taught today. While it took some mental preparation to teach eight classes (four in a row, lunch, four in a row), I was very excited to have the day in my hands. Today I would have five first grade classes, one kindergarten, and two adapted physical education classes. The day started off on a great note with the first adapted physical education class and helped set the stage for the rest of the day. I remained calm, confident, and excited out the material within each class. We continued our President's Challenge assessment by completed the curl-up test and by beginning, and completing, the sit-and-reach test. I made sure that my rules were concise and yet direct. I always had a full view of the class and consistently reinforced positive behavior. The students were excellent! They performed very well on the assessment and were very well behaved. In order to keep their attention, I would continue to act silly at appropriate times to keep their attention and strengthen skill acquisition. The second adapted physical education class was a little tough but I was able to rebound during it and finished the day on a positive note with the last class. In the high school, I taught each class everyday. However, here at Ridge, it was quite different. There were eight classes instead of five to teach and time management was a huge factor. I felt very confident today and Ms. Hinton was very impressed. She noted, "Last week sucked but this week is awesome!" This got a pretty hearty laugh out of me! I am very happy with today and look forward to the rest of this adventure at Ridge Elementary School!

Day 24 (59) - Thursday May 5, 2011
As the school year begins to approach the end, it is almost time for the school's field days for the kindergarten and first grade students. Ms. Hinton organizes all of the activities for the day and today was the second day of meeting with the teachers to go over the activities. This would be the first year in which the teachers would be in charge of leading their classes through each station and although some where initially unsure they quickly began to become more comfortable and excited with the upcoming festivities which I unfortunately will be unable to attend. Today Ms. Hinton took the morning classes and I had the afternoon. She told me how it can be good and bad to have a student teacher. It is good because she gets to help them grow professionally and it is bad because she has to take a step back and not teach as much. As we continue to reach the end of my experience, I am teaching more often but Ms. Hinton is still getting her fair share of work! When I someday become a cooperating teacher, I will revisit these words from Ms. Hinton and model the student teaching experience in a similar way. Through that I hope to develop strong teachers in the same manner in which my skills were developed. Today was very successful and I look forward to teaching all day once again tomorrow!

Day 25 (60) - Friday May 6, 2011
To close out the week, Ms. Hinton once again had me teach each class of the day. After a successful week, I was very much looking forward to this. It proved to be an incredibly beautiful day out and we were able to finish testing for the running and curl-ups for each class and many were able to finish the sit-and-reach test. All was going well until we hit the end of the day. There is a notable difference between kindergarten and first grade both developmentally and behavioral wise. Ms. Hinton noticed early on that I sometimes let the kids have a little too much fun and that puts the control of the class into their hands. She noted that I need to be a little more stern and decisive while still allowing the students to have fun. During the class, the students were noisy and did not follow directions very well. I mainly did not pay attention to them in order to get through the assessment. At the end, I let them know how I was upset with their behavior and how we may not continue if they do not listen. This harkened back to the high school hockey lesson where I tried to teach to no success due to constant disruptive behavior until I finally called it quits and lectured the class. For students of any age I need to lay down and enforce the rules at all costs, otherwise, they will be meaningless. Even though this was a tough class to end the week on, Ms. Hinton told me not to be discouraged as I had a great week. I now look forward to my final eight days in which each of them will be fully in my hands.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Champ is Here!!

Day 16 (51) - Monday April 25, 2011

After a nice relaxing week-long spring break, it was back-to-school for the final 18 day stretch of my student teaching experience! It is hard to believe that in less than one month, not only will student teaching have been completed, but I will have graduated from SUNY Cortland with my undergraduate degree in physical education. However, in order to get to that point, I need to continue to shape the children at Ridge Elementary School into physically educated individuals. This week would be an important turning point in my student teaching experience as we would begin to assess the students under the President's Challenge at the end of the week. In order to get the students focused on the impending assessment, I adopted a new phrase for the week; it is time to get serious. I needed to have them all focus on their exercises and practice as if they were being assessed in every practice. At this age, it is not very difficult to motivate children however I felt it necessary to go a little beyond what was necessary in order to get them motivated. With the WWE World Heavyweight Championship around my waist, I told the story of my spring break where I won the title by using the very same exercises in which they were performing. I stressed the fact that while someone may or may not be the strongest person, if they practice regularly and set goals, then they can achieve anything. That is the first step in their path to the President's Challenge. As I continue into my teaching career, motivating students to succeed is one of the most important aspects to focus on. I need to show them that they too can reach their goals if they simply set and work toward them. Anything is possible for those who want it most.

Day 17 (52) - Tuesday April 26, 2011
Every now and then, everyone goes through bumps in the road that can affect their performance in their everyday lives and responsibilities. With many things in my personal life not going too well, it seemed as if my stress and frustration came out a little bit in my teaching. I would begin each class well; however, as they progressed, each lesson seemed to come off a little stale and a little boring. Ms. Hinton wanted me to stick simply to the basics and not add 'filler' to my speaking during the lesson. Between personal issues and a focus on what I had to say, I lost my composure once in a while and therefore the lesson was adversely affected. Again, I was nit-picking behavior and not being overly positive. Ultimately I fell back upon the words of Stephen Yang from my motor development class (the very class where my teaching journey began); "even with all of your problems and personal convictions, you can never let them show through to your students... each day you need to wear your teaching mask." I now understand these words truer than ever before. The educational experience of the children should not be compromised because I am having a bad day. I need to shake off any worries or concerns at the door and let the energy of the lessons and the students guide my actions. One of the most important things I have discovered is that you must live the lesson and not force the lesson to live your life.

Day 18 (53) - Wednesday April 27, 2011
After two days of bumps in the road, I was back on the highway ready to move forward. In order to mentally get to the place I needed to be, I viewed each class I taught today as the best class in the entire school. Through this, I would be able to utilize all of the components of my personality and teaching skills in order present a quality lesson to the students. Today was the first day of assessing the students for the President's Challenge. The test of the day was for curl-ups. In order to ensure that the students were engaged in some sort of activity while we were assessing, we implemented stations into the lesson. The testing station was located in the corner and had a bird's eye view of all students within the gymnasium. After a brief introduction, we were off and running and the students provided the skills. Each student in both classes that were assessed met the criteria for either the National or the Presidential awards. This was very enlightening as it was a sign that all of the practice paid off and the students were able to become physically stronger. As a teacher it is a pleasure to see student improvement because it is a product of both parties' collaborative efforts. The adapted physical education class also proved to be a successful lesson as well. Ms. Hinton and I were very satisfied with my improvements since the last few days and I look forward to a strong finish to this experience. It is now safe to say that the champ... is... here!!

Day 19 (54) - Thursday April 28, 2011
I'm sorry but we will not be having physical education class today in the gymnasium. That was the big news story today. There seemed to have been some issues with the gymnasium which made it unusable for the day. Rather than use the gym, we used the school's all-purpose room located down the hall. Unfortunately, this room was a quarter of the size of the gymnasium but we had to make due. We moved select pieces of equipment into the all-purpose room and continued our station rotation and President's Challenge curl-up test. Even with the limited space, the classes still went well and there were very good results on the curl-up test. Some kindergarten students were able to perform over thirty curl-ups in one minute! This situation demonstrated that a teacher has to be ready with alternative plan in the event that their teaching facilities were unusable. When it was decided that we were not to use the gymnasium today, Ms. Hinton immediately sprung into action and we were set up in the all-purpose room within ten minutes. However, not all things went well today. The stations proved to be a little chaotic and it was difficult, as the teacher, to split time between assessing the students and monitoring behavior. After an evaluation at the end of the day, Ms. Hinton and I determined that it was better to eliminate the stations and develop a new course of action for testing. It is sometimes more important to sacrifice activity time to ensure the student's safety.

Day 20 (55) - Friday April 29, 2011
Lights, cameras, action! Oh wait, the lights just went out. That would be how the day would begin. Just before the first class of the day, the electricity in the school went off. And not but five minutes later, the fire alarm went off. While these may seem like detrimental parts of the day, I did get some valuable experiences out of it. This was my first opportunity to bring students out and monitor them during a fire drill. As it turned out, we were outside for quite a while and the kids were becoming restless. However, I did my best to maintain their focus and entertain them in order to keep them quiet. After the fire drill was all over, we were still unable to use the gymnasium for the first half of the day. We continued our curl-up testing for the President's Challenge in the school's all-purpose room. Unlike the previous few days, we no longer used stations in the gymnasium or all-purpose room. We instead had the students sit and watch their classmates perform their exercises during the test. While it seemed as if this would be a poor judgment, it was a necessary one. Students were in one area where I was able to observe them and know that they were safe. We stretched in-between tests and ran outside so that they were somewhat active. It is a fair trade-off to have a few classes of inactivity rather than a few classes of chaotic mayhem. In my future, I need to ensure that I develop teaching environments conductive to safety and activity.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Before You Leave for Spring Break, Let's Learn Some History!

Day 11 (46) - Monday April 11, 2011

Since we are doing the President's Challenge test preparation, I figured that this could be a good opportunity to teach the students about some of the Presidents of the United States. Unlike the physical education teacher in The Simpsons, I will be much more patient and not penalize incorrect answers! I decided to incorporate the 'President of the Day' into each lesson. I would select a President who had contributed to the field of fitness in some way and also focus on some of the lesser known Presidents in order to expand the students' knowledge. The first candidate was President Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th). What makes President Eisenhower special in the field of fitness is not simple his athletic days at West Point. President Eisenhower was the man who developed the President's Council on Youth Fitness in 1956 (currently known at the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition). Having noticed that European children were healthier and more physically fit than American children, Eisenhower established the council which would eventually create the President's Challenge under Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency. I feel that it is important for these children to not simply perform the content but also to understand why they are performing it and how the program came to be. Throughout the unit, I will look for more ways to incorporate these teachable moments.

Day 12 (47) - Tuesday April 12, 2011
Nothing says you're struggling as a teacher until a kindergarten student flips you off. Needless to say, I addressed the situation and discovered that she did not know what the gesture meant and was only mimicking what she had seen others do outside of school. Needless to say this was a minor, unimportant issue that I simply laughed off after school. However, there I did not have control of the students in that same class. They were noisy, unruly, and, as Ms. Hinton said to me afterward, they were in control of the class at certain points. This was truly the first time I sat a class down and let them know how upset I was with them and disappointed in their actions. Generally, I tend not to hand out consequences unless students are blatantly not following directions. Due to their overbearing and disrespectful actions, I had to sit them about and talk to them about respect and my role as a teacher. I am there to teach them not to play with them. Due to this we were unable to perform all of the exercises, however, it was the faults of both parties. From this session, I know that I must begin to lay out expectations and potential consequences or rewards immediately at the beginning of class (this is what I want... if you do it we can play this... if you do not then this will happen...). In order to get the respect of the students, I need to be personable, but also authoritative.

Day 13 (48) - Wednesday April 13, 2011
As we had reached the middle of the week, I was met with a surprise when I arrived at school in the morning. Ms. Hinton had an appointment in the middle of the day and would only be in school up until noon. She requested that I not stay with a substitute as she did not want me to interact with the students without her guidance and gave me permission to leave. After consideration, I accepted the offer to leave. After all, I would not receive adequate feedback otherwise and the safety of the children was a priority. I only taught one class today and it proved to be a rather successful one. We were able to run outside and complete all of our exercises. However, the students were a little noisy which caused me to switch unconsciously into authoritative mode in order to regain their attention. After class Ms. Hinton said that I am now focusing too much on the consequences and discipline. She discovered me identifying kids for the smallest errors and waiting for the class to become 'perfect' before continuing. In order to be a successful and effective teacher, I must find an even balance for disciplinary measures and the flow and control of the class. Otherwise, I will lean too far to one side and the students will be negatively impacted.

Day 14 (49) - Thursday April 14, 2011
After a rainy Wednesday, Thursday proved to be the day the school was able to hold their 'unity day'. This outdoor assembly generally ran over the allotted time and one of the classroom teachers asked Ms. Hinton if she could have their physical education class later in the day. Therefore the first class of the day would start a little later. With a ring of the phone, we discover Terry Phelan, my college supervisor, dropped by for an observation. With my assigned classes not starting until later in the day, I taught a different class for my observation. I had not taught this particular class before, however, I had observed them and it was generally a well-behaved and respectful kindergarten class. This would be their first day running outside so I had a little bit to explain in the introduction. They all listened intently and were excited to go back outside. This was the first class of the week to run the correct route outdoors for the quarter-mile! I made sure I gave explicit directions and they seemed to have understood it fully. Overall, I would say this was my best teaching experience at Ridge Elementary. Afterward, Terry said "they all had their eyes glued on you and I think you may have found where you should be." This was an excellent start to the day and carried over into the other classes.

Day 15 (50) - Friday April 15, 2011
Friday. The last day before spring break. The students were excited about getting out of school and going on vacation. However, it was still my job to make them physically fit before they left! One student said it best during an introduction, "we need to listen to the teacher because we are still in school and we need to get strong." This set the tone for many of the classes and had gotten the children excited about the day. It was beautiful out so we were able to go outside and run the quarter-mile during each class. However, that one statement from earlier in the day did not carry over to all classes. Friday is generally full of kindergarten classes and they get easily distracted. Talking in little whispers became a big issue both inside and outside. From my experiences earlier in the week, I knew I had to be firm with them and hand out discipline where appropriate. I had learned that with regularly mentioning the amount of time remaining, and the possibility of losing a paw print or game, it refocuses the students. However, I need to develop a means to never let them lose focus at all. The creative story lessons have been working, but now I think it's time for more props and word selection to full immerse the students. Ms. Hinton said that all student teachers hit a rough stretch of the road but it clears up quickly once you regain control of the wheel.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hey Ridge Kids! I'm Back from California and the President has a Challenge!

Day 6 (41) - Monday April 4, 2011
After a week on the west coast it was back to work on the eastern seaboard. I had only had one week of experience in this school before I had left for California so I needed to get back into the elementary teaching mentality. Perhaps the best part of the day was how excited the students were to see me back in school. I had only met them for one week but they treated me as if I had been their teacher all year. This was a wonderful welcome back to school and I was immediately confident of the next few weeks. Today was the first day of the President's Challenge unit. In this unit, the students would practice their curl-ups, pull-ups, sit-and-reach, quarter-mile run, and shuttle run each class session until the completion of the unit in the beginning of May. Ms. Hinton explained it to me as, "they had fun all year with scooter highway, the obstacle course, parachutes, etc., and now it's time for them to work!" I had selected this unit as the one in which I would perform my student teacher work sample upon. I selected a first grade class and broke the assessment period into two days; curl-ups, pull-ups, and sit-and-reach would be today. While it was a little disorganized and chaotic at times, I was able to gather all of the information I needed for these first three tests. I need to ensure that the pre-assessment remains organized in order to gather what I need.

Day 7 (42) - Tuesday April 5, 2011
The pre-assessment resumed today with the first grade class. During my first week in the elementary school, I observed each class in order to determine which class it would be that I would perform the assessment upon. All of the classes were different based upon skill level. I determined I would assess first grade rather than kindergarten in order to facilitate the process. After careful examination of each first grade class, I selected the one I thought would benefit the most out of the experience. Today we assessed the quarter-mile run and the shuttle run. These were two of the more difficult tests to manage so I put them on the same day were there would be enough time for both. For the quarter-mile run, I needed to explain the rules about running outside as well as the course for the students to follow. With the shuttle run, I needed to describe how the test was performed without giving hints on how to run it. Needless to say, there was confusion in both of the assessments. During the pre-assessment, I am not supposed to tell students how to perform the task but merely demonstrate how to the activity. As we progress into the unit, I need to ensure that I am describing, in detail how to do each exercise in order to be successful.

Day 8 (43) - Wednesday April 6, 2011
Prior to the beginning of the unit, I knew that we would be doing the same activities and exercises each class session. After all, in order to perform well on the President's Challenge one must practice each of the tests in order to improve their skills. For children in kindergarten and first grade (and students of all ages for that matter), lessons can become redundant when you are doing the same things day in and day out. Therefore, I decided that in order to keep the students' attention throughout the entire lesson, I had to alter some of my teaching style. First, I decided to make each lesson a story and enlist the class as the characters (i.e. pirate-in-training, detective school, etc.). Even though we would be performing the same activities, the story was different and they perceive is as an entirely different experience. This will help me maintain their attention great a positive and fun learning environment. Secondly, I need to offer them some kind of incentive for good behavior (i.e. a game at the end of class, a paw print for the class, or individual cub cash). This way, they are working toward a common and individual goal at the end of class. I feel that as a result of these changes, there will be an improvement in behavior as well as physical fitness level.

Day 9 (44) - Thursday April 7, 2011
Toward the end of the day, it was time to teach the adapted physical education class. Throughout the week, they had all been on their very best behavior and I was looking forward to the class. Generally, each class session for this class is the same; exercises and stretching in the beginning and then ten minutes of free activity time. In the target unit, it was simple as they would go to a station and rotate throughout the gymnasium. Now, however, it was up to me to decide which activities would fill in that remainder of time. Today I decided to have each student and their one-on-one take a hula-hoop and a ball. The one-on-one would hold the hoop and the student would throw or roll the ball through. I was paired up with a student who was a little apprehensive at first to play but eventually did so. When it came time to clean up, he did not want to do so. He began crying and would not relinquish the equipment. He would run through the gymnasium yelling and screaming. Eventually, I was able to calm him down and get him to line-up and leave with his class. These classes take a lot of patience combined with assertiveness in order to get the students to listen. While this was undoubtedly one of my more difficult teaching experiences, it nonetheless helped to strengthen my abilities.

Day 10 (45) - Friday April 8, 2011
In the blink of an eye it seemed as if the week had flown by! Friday is generally a day with numerous kindergarten classes so I need to be a little more attentive to their behavior to ensure that they are listening and remained focused. Throughout the day, I noticed that many students would lose focus when I demonstrated all of the exercises (except pull-ups). I eventually formulated a way in which to combat this. During the last class of the day, I would call upon students randomly to come up and demonstrate the activities in front of the class. Generally, I would select students whom I knew could perform the exercises exceptionally well and those students whom I had noticed at the ones to lose focus during introductions. This helped immensely to keep the class attentive and prompted students to want to volunteer. One of the features I focused on was a positive learning environment. After each student would perform the exercise, I would encourage the class to applaud their abilities and 'bravery' to be in front of the class performing. I want all students to feel comfortable in class and have a positive outlook on physical education. I still demonstrated the pull-ups as many students could not perform one (and I liked hearing the oohs and ahhs when I was demonstrating!). Perhaps the best thing I heard today was a student telling me that they want to be as strong as me because I am their hero. This was an excellent note to leave the week upon!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Manifest Destiny, Young Man." Western Expedition to Oceans of Opportunity - 2011 AAHPERD National Convention & Exposition

Monday March 28, 2011
Coming Soon!

Tuesday March 29, 2011
Coming Soon!

Wednesday March 30, 2011
Coming Soon!

Thursday March 31, 2011
Coming Soon!

Friday April 1, 2011
Coming Soon!

Saturday April 2, 2011
Coming Soon!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Maybe it's the Power Trying to Come Back On?

Day 1 (36) - Monday March 21, 2011
Do you feel that? Is there something coming? Sometimes you don't have to see something to know it is coming. That is exactly what I walked in expecting at Ridge Elementary School. After 8 weeks of teaching 11th and 12th grade students, it was time to begin the next 8 weeks of teaching kindergarten and first grade students. And unlike high school students, these children were all ecstatic to be in physical education class. My cooperating teaching, Ms. Beverly Hinton, was beginning the target unit today which is a culmination of the acquired skills of the overhand, underhand, and Frisbee throws. As soon as the kids walked in the gymnasium, their eyes lit up at all the stations set up for them to us. However, being that this was the first day, each station needed to be explained beforehand giving them limited, albeit some, playing time in the end. The teaching load was more than the high school where I taught 5 classes. Here at Ridge, in one day the physical education teacher can teach as many as 8 classes. By the end of the day, Ms. Hinton felt it time for me to give it a shot and teach the last class of the day. Even though I was a little nervous, I gave it my best and had the kids' attention the entire time. Ms. Hinton gave me a positive review and I look forward to working with her for the duration of this experience. Just as I stated earlier, even though I can tell when the kids are coming by a glass of water, I know not to expect the roar of the mighty tyrannosaurus but rather bright smiles and positive attitudes.

Take a look at the first edition of The Park Center Enquirer: Ridge Edition!!

Day 2 (37) - Tuesday March 22, 2011
You're not going to learn how to teach unless you go up in front of a class and give it a shot. This seems to be Ms. Hinton's philosophy with student teachers! Since I already completed my experience in the high school, she is gradually increasing the number of classes I am teaching each day starting yesterday and proceeding through today. I taught a kindergarten class and a first grade class. It would be the first time the kindergarten class was introduced to the target unit, and the second day of the target unit for the first grade class. I felt very comfortable in front of both classes and did my best to keep their attention all the while explaining what I needed to say. The kindergarten class was a little rough to teach. All of this was new to them and I tried to explain too much to them rather than simplify everything so that they could grasp the concepts easier. Things went better in the first grade class as I connected psychically with Dr. Kniffin and applied some of the teaching tactics he taught us to this class. Following each lesson, Ms. Hinton was ready with a list of things, both positive and negative aspects, regarding the lesson. This form of constructive feedback is extremely valuable to me. She is the veteran teacher and I take every word she says and I apply it to the very next lesson I teach. With her support and input, I can already tell that this experience will improve my teaching abilities vastly!

Day 3 (38) - Wednesday March 23, 2011
Even though I am three days into my placement at Ridge Elementary School, it is still proving to be a rather tedious transition and adjustment. This does not include the difference in age of the students but rather the later start time of the school, the increased workload of class periods, change in scenery/coworkers, and transport to the high school at the end of the day. However this will all hopefully fade as I continue my experience here at Ridge. Ms. Hinton and Ms. Rosenthal have both been very welcoming and I am very appreciative of that. It is nice to see the two of them teach together with the combined classes (a much more manageable number of 32 compared to the 50-60 in a high school combined class). With this being day three, Ms. Hinton had me teach three classes today. I taught one combined class, one first grade class, and one adapted physical education class. The two former classes went very well with the first grade class being hailed by Ms. Hinton as my best one yet. However, the adapted physical education class, my first experience since my course at Cortland, proved to be a little more challenging to instruct. There were only five in the class but it was quite a bit to handle. It was easy for students to fall off task or not listen to directions. Transitions proved difficult as well as explanations. Ms. Hinton said I handled it well but I know I can do better. For next time, I know that I need more patience and a stronger game-plan.

Day 4 (39) - Thursday March 24, 2011
On day four at Ridge Elementary School that meant it was time for me to teach four of the seven of Ms. Hinton's classes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ms. Rosenthal, the other physical education teacher, is up in the intermediate center teaching which leaves all classes in the hands of Ms. Hinton and as of now my hands as well. Each class I would teach and Ms. Hinton would sit back as if she were a fly on the wall observing and taking notes. For the most part, the classes were all very well behaved today. One class of note started off very well but quickly fell off track behaviorally. They began class quietly, finished warm-ups quickly, and listened while I told directions. However, when it can time to play, they were loud and not responsive to some directions. I did my best to get them back on task using negative reinforcement to ween them off the undesirable behaviors by praising the positive. It seemed to work but I still think it could have gone better. Directions and guidelines need to be laid out at the beginning of class and reinforced throughout the class session. Next time, I will be sure to focus on this. On a side note, I had another adapted physical education class today and it went great! The students were very responsive and cooperative with my directions and instruction. Ms. Hinton commended me on a job well done and I look forward my next experience with them!

Day 5 (40) - Friday March 25, 2011
It is the end of the first week at Ridge Elementary School! Surprisingly, this week went extremely quick. It has been quite the fun week. Not but one week ago, I was doing my best to get high school students to get up and jog around the gym and now I am trying to get students to focus so we can get to their favorite games and activities. In the high school, physical activity seemed to be a punishment and sitting out was a blessing. It's totally opposite in the elementary school. The students just want to play! Due to having less classes and two teachers, I did not max the week out at five classes taught. But rather I taught three. Since it was Friday and the weather was beautiful, the kids were excited for the weekend and to get outside. My main focus was to get them to focus! And it all went pretty well today. I am inching closer and closer to completing my elementary teaching style. I am more animated, goofy, and, most importantly, stern when I need to be. The kids have grown to respect me and Ms. Hinton told me this was the best first week for a student teacher she has had in years! One drawback of the elementary school is the lack of conversation outlets. In the high school, there were 14 teachers and various others who would come to chat. In the elementary school, it's two teachers and the seldom visitor if any. I seem to notice that there is an abundance of female teachers. This is something that I will get adjusted to in time. I look forward to my future weeks here at Ridge Elementary School but first, it's time to head to San Diego!

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Your Show and You've Done Well... Now Go Out with a Bang!

Day 31 - Monday March 14, 2011
Just because an idea works on paper, doesn't mean it is going to work in reality. That is how my offense and defense drill turned out in today's hockey lesson. My idea was to perform a 3v2 offense v. defense drill to reinforce these positions before we began games. I split the courts in half and had the students working in groups of 10 rotating in and out on a time based schedule. As it turns out, this drill isn't too fun nor is it easy to explain to kids who simply want to play and have fun. After two periods of this dreadful drill, I asked Mr. Reilly if he had any ideas on how to fix this drill or any ideas for a new drill. As it turns out, he was just the man to ask. He offered me a drill; 2v2 offense and defense in a straight line toward the goal. There would be eight lines and four goals with two lines working together and rotating through the positions. This turned out to be a huge success with the students. It allowed them to move freely throughout the space of the gymnasium as well as focus on the decision-making process I had been stressing for the offense and defense. Sometimes, your drill may not work and it's never bad to ask for help. Mr. Reilly helped me out today but as he said, each day is a learning experience. If it doesn't work for one class, make a change and see if that works. Otherwise, it will simply get stale.

Day 32 - Tuesday March 15, 2011
As I continue the final week of my experience at Longwood High School, the closure process begins: saying goodbye to students, say goodbye to staff, final evaluations, the list goes on. I met with Mr. Dillon today and he stated that, as with other student teachers, in their final week he performs a mock job interview with them. As it turns out, today was the day for my mock interview. Many of the questions he asked were simple, some I had heard before and others were new. However, when it came time to answer, I realized that I still had a lot of work to do in both answering more efficiently and making myself more marketable to potential employers. I answered the initial questions successfully but when he would follow up with continuous extensions to that question, I began to fumble. He told me that the most important thing in an interview is to be confident and comfortable. Talk early, talk often, and always ask questions. This process was one of the most valuable experiences of this placement. Mr. Dillon said that anytime I needed to practice or if I had any questions to feel free to contact him and go through it again. This was comforting as I now have additional outlets to help better myself as I prepare to enter the job market.

Day 33 - Wednesday March 16, 2011
After sitting through multiple rule explanations, numerous drills, and constant reminders, it was finally time to begin playing floor hockey in Mr. Reilly's sport module one physical education classes. Unfortunately, playing time was going to be rather low especially since we were in a gymnasium with Mr. Schroeder's classes for four periods and Ms. K's class for one period. We divided the gymnasium in half and played two separate games: competitive and noncompetitive. Throughout the day, there was rarely an even balance between the two sides. It would be lopsided one way or the other. And that is where it would get difficult to manage. The kids would get restless and hop on the court when their team was waiting on the sidelines. Initially, we would have games of 7v7 and at times they would balloon to 12v10 if we were not noticing who came on and who came off. Mr. Reilly noted this between classes that we cannot ever let that happen again. For the remainder of the day, I was strict with the number on each team and how much time each would play was balanced as evenly as I could. I know that in big classes it can be difficult to get a lot of activity time for most of the class. However, activity time must always be sacrificed for the well being and safety of the students in the class.

Day 34 - Thursday March 17, 2011
In this new era of physical education, students are not simply expected to know how to physically perform a skill or task, but rather they are also expected to know how to cognitively identify the critical components of a movement and how they associate with other aspects of the activities. Today, I administered a unit test for both team handball and floor hockey. I created the test myself based upon what was covered in class and based off of what my objectives were for the end of each unit. Prior to the test, I distributed a review sheet for student who wanted to study and prepare. On the day of the test, it was surprising to see many students struggle with the content. Several times in each class I received multiple questions regarding whether or not a certain concept was covered or not. Eventually, I would give hints to the whole class based upon questions in which numerous students seemed to have struggled answering. It is unclear whether this was a result of a difficult test, a lack of thorough explanation on my part, or a lack of studying on the student part. Regardless, next time I need to ensure that all concepts are covered and reinforced it they are going to be on a test. This way, students will all be able to excel in class.

Day 35 - Friday March 18, 2011
Unbelievable. After 8 weeks at Longwood High School, my student teaching experience comes to an end. It is hard to believe that I have only been in this school since January 24, 2011. I feel as if this is a place where I belong and would hope to one day work. Since this was my last day, I brought in bagels and orange juice for all of the physical education staff as a thank you for my time with them. The teaching portion of this day went without a hitch. There were no issues in the classes as the students completed their exams and played hockey with me for the final time. Perhaps the most important moment of the day was the conversation reflecting on my experience that I had with Mr. Reilly. In a one-on-one conversation, we discussed my growth from the first day up until today. He was very proud of the strides that I had made to improve myself both professionally and personally. And to him, I thanked him for hosting me as his student teacher and offered gratitude for all he had done in the form of a simple gift and the most powerful show of respect, a handshake. I feel as if I had grown a lot as a person through my experiences at Longwood High School. It was upsetting to say goodbye to many of the students and teachers on this last day. However, I know it will not be the last time that I see them. I will see them again in the future both in person as well as in the teacher that they all assisted in developing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reactions to Situations Cannot Be Tested on a Piece of Paper

Source -

Day 26 - Monday March 7, 2011

You cannot anticipate the unanticipated, however, you need to prepare for it whenever the situation calls for it. In physical education class, one of the most critical and vital components the teacher needs to enforce is safety for self and others. Today in class, Terry Phelan's words of safety immediately came to mind. During a class, one student hit their head on the floor attempting to catch a fly ball in a handball game. While they did immediately get up, you could tell that they seemed dazed and confused about the events that preceded the fall. The student was immediately brought to the nurse's office for observation and following this, presumably brought to the hospital for an examination. Because of Terry Phelan's constant reminders, I always stress safety before and during game-play in class. However, it's a hard thing to take in once an accident occurs. For the remainder of the day, I issued an even more explicit safety statement before and during each class and had a zero tolerance attitude for any plays deemed dangerous or potentially unsafe. While this was an accident, it saddened me for the remainder of the day wondering what the diagnosis of any potential injury was for this student. I truly hope this student is alright and will continue to be an advocate for classroom safety as I continue my student teaching experience. I also need to continue to prepare to react accordingly to any potential situations that arise.
Today, I began my volunteer coaching position with the Mr. Roenbeck, Mr. Huey, and Mr. Gibson and the varsity girls' track and field team. I look forward to this experience and hope to learn as much as I can from both the coaches and the athletes!

**UPDATE 3/8/11** The student who was injured in class was diagnosed with a mild concussion and otherwise will be fine. Best wishes to this student on their road to full recovery!

Day 27 - Tuesday March 8, 2011
Today was the first of the last two days of the team handball unit. When this was announced to the class, their were mixed reactions with more students having anticipation to move forward and begin the upcoming floor hockey unit which will bring them through the remainder of the third quarter. As promised last week, this would be a day of champions as each class would crown a handball champion among the teams who had competed against one another for the past five weeks. In order to make it a little more enticing, I brought in a toy WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt as a prop to signify today's importance. As soon as I took out the belt to show the class, their faces lit up and they were ecstatic to see a tangible representation of success and achievement. I told them that the winners would be able to wear the belt if desired and physically become the champion. It was a true success as the game-play was the highest it had been in a long time. It was turned out to be a great day to and storyline to close the unit on for this set of classes. This storyline showed me that no matter how old students are, props and tangible accolades will always be motivators for success and enthusiasm. As we move into the hockey unit, and very soon to my elementary experience, I will discover new ways in which to capture their imaginations and let them run free!

Day 28 - Wednesday March 9, 2011
After 23 says, or 115 class periods, the team handball unit finally came to a close! While I do enjoy the sport, I must admit, I was rather burned out with the sport after such a long time of doing the same thing. Each class period would be a carbon copy of the original one and it seemed to drag on for a while. However, in order to sell the idea of the game to the students, I never once made it seem as if I was tired of the sport. I would continue to run each class as if it were the most important lesson so that the kids would be drawn into the action and maintain their enthusiastic attitudes. As a future teacher, there may be some units in which I will be given to teach that I may or may not have the most experience or the most tolerance for. That is, however, a mute point as I need to be an expert on whatever I teach and maintain a positive view of the content in order to get the kids involved. Wearing one's 'teaching mask' is vital to their success. If the kids can see that you are apathetic toward the content, then they will too be apathetic and the class will spiral out of control. While I wholeheartedly look teaching in the floor hockey unit, it will be bittersweet to depart with team handball, the first teaching unit of my student teaching career!

Day 29 - Thursday March 10, 2011
Every ending leads to a new beginning. With the conclusion of the team handball unit comes the beginning of the floor hockey unit. Considering that the great majority of the team handball unit was spent playing games in the XHL tournament, this would be the first actual lesson where I would teach rules, concepts, and skills. Going into the day, it was the first time this placement that I was a little nervous to be in front of the class teaching. And to make matters worse, whereas only three of the ten classes we had were double classes, all periods on both days were to become double classes. Instead of 25 or so students in a class, I now had to manage 50-60 students in a smaller gymnasium in a unit where safety was a crucial aspect. Many of the kids were a little apprehensive about beginning floor hockey. They all enjoyed the team handball unit and weren't too keen on change especially since most of the first lesson was rule explanation. For all five periods it was simply me as the lead teacher. The kids cooperated during the explanation and expectations and we were able to get to some shooting drills at the end of the period. As a teacher, I have to expect the unexpected. I planned my lesson around the belief I would have 25 students but had to modify on the spot to accommodate nearly 60 students which included some activities. For the future, I must plan my lessons around any potential curve-balls that may be thrown out at me. And for the students, I know rule explanation can be boring and repetitive. I tried to make it as interactive as possible in order to keep them interested. I am excited to continue into next week to develop the unit!

Day 30 - Friday March 11, 2011
After nearly seven weeks at Longwood High School, very seldom did I have any major behavioral or disciplinary issues. If anything, those issues were minor, dealt with swiftly, and did not impede instruction or activity time. Well, in today's seventh period class, I received all behavioral issues on a massive scale. As usual, this would be a double class with nearly sixty students. This would be the tenth time I explained the rules of floor hockey as well as the activities. At this point, I was able to provide a thorough explanation in a rather timely manner. However, I did not anticipate the students' actions. From the start, students would converse with one another while I was trying to explain the rules, they would continually ask irrelevant questions, and even at one point, three students who were not in the class entered the gymnasium and disrupted the class. Mr. Reilly interjected multiple times to try to get them to focus but it proved to be ineffective. After this, there was barely ten minutes left to warm-up and play so I moved quickly to get the activity in. However, when I was trying to explain the activity, the kids were throwing sticks on the floor, talking and being disrespectful. It was at this point I decided not to let them play. I instead provided a monologue regarding the incident. It was non-threatening and non-confrontational and yet stern. I understand that they may be tired after a long day of school but at the end of it, I am a teacher and I should still be treated as such. As a teacher, you need to be stern and assert control of the class otherwise it will be lost. I hope my final two days with this class will be more productive than this was.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Career in Education is a Roller Coaster Ride!

Day 21 - Monday February 28, 2011
It's good to be back! With mid-winter recess over, it's time to go back to school and begin the final three week stretch at Longwood High School. After a week off, I was excited to head back to school and get back to work. With a fresh hair cut I hoped to look a little more mature (possibly age 18!) and no longer be asked for a hall pass when I walk in the halls during class. I was excited to see my colleagues as well as the kids. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the amount of acceptance and approval given to me by the students. Before, during, and after each class, students will converse with me informally about their lives and ask for advice about their futures as well as joke around a bit. They all were more than willing to engage in the warm-up without protest and brought a high level of energy to the team handball games. After three weeks I had developed a very strong professional relationship with these students and was flattered to have them ask me for advice about their personal lives. This is perhaps the best intrinsic reward I have received thus far. As a teacher, it is an unspoken responsibility to be a mentor and resource to all students. Teachers help to guide students toward their interest and help to reveal their character as they grow into adults. This respect is something that I am truly honored to have gained and I am more than ecstatic to continue to work with these students for the next three weeks!

Day 22 - Tuesday March 1, 2011
Two separate, but equally important events defined today; one inside the classroom and one outside the classroom. Inside the class, I had to deliver my first 'stern' lecture to two of the classes. During both warm-ups, students refused to jog or stretch after several repeated statements by me to do so. Mr. Reilly said bring them in and talk. After I blew my whistle, I brought everyone in and told them simply that I would like the same respect given to me as I have demonstrated to them. I inserted a few jokes as to not seem overly stern but enough-so that set a precedent that I am a teacher and should be listened to as if it were Mr. Reilly teaching the class. It is crucial to draw the line between student and teacher especially if you are a student-teacher. I'm not much older than them and if I want them to listen I need to lay out the foundation of what is expected before I jump into gaining their approval.
Outside of the classroom, there is growing concern over potential layoffs within the school district due to the recent cuts to education funding by Governor Andrew Cuomo. With the recent news of Sachem School District laying off 315 teachers (noted above in the video), Mr. Dillon called for a meeting of the physical education staff. Due to the budget cuts, it appears that Longwood School District may cut 70 teaching positions. This put a sense of unease in some teachers as it is the recently hired teachers who will be the first to go, some of which are in the physical education department. It is an uncertain and frightening climate in the realm of education and no one knows when this will clear up. Districts all over Long Island, New York State, and the country in general face massive layoffs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is raising the issue of performance over seniority in removing teachers. If is currently a troubling time to be a teacher, let alone a teaching candidate like myself. While the uncertain outweighs the certain, I must remain positive and look toward the future and remain in a form of solidarity with my colleagues.

Day 23 - Wednesday March 2, 2011
As the financial climate of the school district continues to heat-up, many are uneasy about what their futures hold. Yesterday, we met with the department chairperson to discuss the current situation and go over potential issues that may continue to arise as we move forward. Today, there was to be a meeting with the district's director of physical education regarding the most up-to-date issues and where we stand and where we go. After school, we met with Ms. Curiale as a department alongside the health and family-consumer science departments. She announced that things were looking rather grim for the future. There appeared to be imminent excess of teachers in order to recoup some of the funding that was cut from the state. For me as a future professional, this is quite troubling as it appears that the field of education is something that is being dismantled piece-by-piece as we move toward the future. With these teachers being excess, the need to hire new teachers becomes mute. I need to explore more options for my future while I still can in order to provide a happy and prosperous future for myself. I truly still want to be a teacher and hope things clear up, however, I need to always consider alternative options to keep food on the table and the bills paid well into the future.

Day 24 - Thursday March 3, 2011
Since January 31, 2011, all of Mr. Reilly's classes have been playing team handball. Class after class, they would play by the same rules, use the same equipment, play with the same teams, and follow the same routine. In order to shake things up a bit, we lowered the basketball hoops as an alternate scoring opportunity worth double the points. Also, we switched from using a playground ball to using a school-approved team handball. We then allowed them to chose new teams and opponents for the class today. I also introduced the concept of a yellow card and ten second penalty for a rule infraction. While these alteration may seem minor, they were able to boost morale and excitement about the game. After playing the same game for so long, the students began to become weary of it and wanted to move onto the next sport. By adding new challenges and tasks into a game, it breaths life into it in order to keep it going for just a little longer. I know the kids want to move to the next sport and I myself admit that I have gotten to the point where I am beyond team handball. Keeping the kids on their toes and listening to their feedback gives them more ownership and enthusiasm for the game and creates a better environment for the teacher and the students. Hopefully these rule changes can get us through to next Wednesday for the completion of the unit!

Day 25 - Friday March 4, 2011
There are days that are good and there are days that are bad. Today, however, was probably the best day that I have had here at Longwood High School as a student teacher. Going into the day, I knew that Mr. Reilly was going to be out due to the track meet upstate and that there was going to be a substitute. Essentially, the class would be mine to run with support from the substitute teacher when and if it were needed. Generally, 'B days' tend to have the most active students in class and today was no exception. The classes all acted as if Mr. Reilly was still there in class. All were on their best behavior and participate fully and enthusiastically. I made sure to balance time with activity in order to provide the best experience possible. This was the first day in which the classes truly felt like they were mine. I was in essence on my own and working and interacting with the students as I would in my own classroom when I become a teacher. To top it all off, my student teaching supervisor, Terry Phelan, stopped by for a visit. He observed our 7th period class which, coincidentally was another double class with another substitute. The class however ran like a fine oiled machine. All students remained on task and cooperated fully. I received praise for my performance but still needed to focus more attention to safety during the class. This proved to be an interesting week with all that was occurring but at least I was able to end it on a good note like this!