Day 6 - Monday January 31, 2011
WOW. Have you ever assumed what something was going to be like? Figure that you had all the answers and was ready to tackle the problem? Sure. We all have. Beginning student teaching I though "hey, I'm from SUNY Cortland... I know what I'm doing and can handle anything." Well. Much like Martin Brody in JAWS, I was in for a surprise awakening earlier this morning. This was the first day I would be in the gymnasium with Joseph Reilly, my cooperating teacher, and the students of Longwood High School. And boy did I sail in on the wrong size boat. Longwood High School has a student body of 3,000+ students. This is dispersed across 14 different physical education teachers. Mr. Reilly's classes tend to be in excess of 25 students per class with some over 30 students. I was not ready for this and my jaw had dropped each class period. Mr. Reilly of course made it all look so simple keeping the attention of the students and getting them active. I realized that I had to reexamine my abilities before I moved any further. The 'sink or swim' method I was told about was merely a joke to get me on my toes for my first day. I mainly observed Mr. Reilly's classes and provided assistance when needed. Afterward, he told me, "don't be something that doesn't match your personality when you teach. The kids will see through it and you won't have fun. Be you." These words are the encouragement and support I need to take the reigns of his workload for the next six weeks. While I start work on my bigger boat, I now know to always sail in on an ocean-liner rather than paddle in with a canoe.
Day 7 - Tuesday February 1, 2011
As with yesterday, we continued the introduction of team handball to the sport module classes. Today would bring the number up to 10 times in which the same lesson would be taught in two days. I began to grow tiresome of going over the same thing five times per day without teaching anything other than handball. I asked Mr. Reilly how he seems so relaxed and enjoyable each time. He told me that to each student in each class, it is the first time they are learning it so it needs to appear as if it is the first time he is teaching it. This is something that was always told to me at Cortland but I never fully grasped the concept until today. I know that at times it may get stressful and in some cases redundant, however, it is the student who needs the full enthusiasm and patience of the teacher in order to learn. When I fully take the reigns of these classes, I will assure myself that each time something is taught, it will always be the just like the first time.
Day 8 - Wednesday February 2, 2011
After some nasty ice-fall from the prior night, I had my first two hour opening delay during my student teaching experience. The school day simply began at fourth period rather than reducing the schedule to fit in all the classes. Therefore, in order to keep pace with the two classes who missed out today, we played mini-modified scrimmages in handball. As expected, the students were more than willing to put aside skill and strategy acquisition in order to get to play. It allowed me to see how a game can be learned simply by doing. In the beginning, many we making mistakes in terms of passing, moving, and field position. There were few times when the referee would not be blowing the whistle. However, as time progressed, the rules and fundamentals of the game began to take shape and these students were playing to the rule of the game. This enabled me to discover that skill acquisition and game-play do not need to be at separate ends of the unit. More often than not, these need to be linked together in order for mastery to occur. As we move forward with the unit, I hope to take a tactical approach to teaching in order to get the students to acquire skills, play some games, and think critically.
Day 9 - Thursday February 3, 2011
Usually, when someone is in the long haul for some sort of commitment, there is a chance that they can become distracted and see less than interested and dedicated. For the better part of this week, during lessons and game-play, I took a very detached role in each lesson. I would stand to the side and communicate or assist in seldom amounts. This could be for any number of reasons; lack of confidence, intimidation of the students, personal issues. Mr. Reilly approached me and said that his main goal for me at this time is to attain a sense of belonging. I need to feel as if I am a member of the Longwood Physical Education staff. I need to have a voice and let my personality and skills show. Earlier today, I began leading the warm-ups and he was shocked by my powerful 'gym voice.' Somewhere along the line this week I lost my enthusiasm and character. I do not know how nor do I know why. This was the wake-up call I needed. I re-evaluated myself to see why I am here and what I am to do. This would be the end of nothing and the return to what made me had fun in with this profession in the first place.
Day 10 - Friday February 4, 2011
Today was my first day of student teaching. Well, not really but it was my first day back as me. I used what Mr. Reilly said to reflect and I was ready to face and take on all challenges. I began to reintroduce myself to the other physical education teachers. I volunteered to assist in other classes during my off periods. I had conversations with students. I was what I needed to be but more importantly I was what I wanted to be. In class, I took over for the day in most of them performing the warm-up as well as taking attendance a refereeing the handball games. I was having fun and the students were having fun. This is truly what I needed this week. Seeing the other teachers in their classes enabled me to compare teaching styles and apply it to how I teach myself. In each class the students and the teachers were always having fun. They each brought their own personalities to the class and were embraced for it. Being in the high school, I figured I needed to shed some of the cartoon-ey gimmick I was famous for in my SUNY Cortland lessons. However, that is what made me; me. I wouldn't be too surprised if a certain arctic bird made his long awaited debut sometime next week!