After a weekend of self assessment and brainstorming for the unit, I came to the conclusion that I had to introduce an old friend to Longwood High School. Xavier Waddles made his public school debut as commissioner of the XHL: Xavier Handball League (just one of his many careers!). For Mr. Reilly's sport module classes, I developed a season of the XHL where the students were divided into teams and played 'regular season' games that would eventually lead to the playoffs and eventual championship game. This turned out to be even better than I expected. The students embraced this concept and were eager to hear more about the league and how it would progress and what they could do to develop team unity. I met each class with enthusiasm in discussing Xavier to them all and where would would go from here. It really impressed Mr. Reilly and Ms. Kozofsky with these ideas. I realized that this is what I need to do to keep my lessons fun and exciting: create a story and run with it. I will continue to see this league through until we have a champion for each class period and lots of smiles to go along with it!
Day 12 - Tuesday February 8, 2011
As the week progressed, this day saw the same roll-out of the XHL as yesterday's classes had seen. Student response remained strong and enthusiasm was at an all time high. Some students were in classes on both days and were eager to compare teams and strategies within both classes. What really stood out to me today was how the students began to become more receptive to my ideas and my presence in the gymnasium. Each class would have conversations with me both before and after the lesson not only to learn more about the games but also to learn more about me. I began to feel that sense of belonging that Mr. Reilly had told me to reach for late last week. The students were interested to learn more about me and I was intrigued to discover more about them as well. I hope that as we continue to move forward through the next few weeks that I can develop a stronger relationship with the students and the staff as well.
Day 13 - Wednesday February 9, 2011
I have realized that it is very easy to fall into the pattern of the school day and other responsibilities of life and forget that there are others outside the building waiting to help you whenever necessary. Today, I received a surprise visit from Terry Phelan, my student teaching supervisor. I had yet to meet Terry up until this point and I was very excited that he had come to visit. We were able to talk a little bit about the school, my responsibilities, and the experience thus far. He then observed me in Mr. Reilly's third period class. Now keep in mind, this is the double class with Mr. Schroeder and there are nearly 60 students confined to half of a gym to play team handball. I was not worried during this observation and did as I always did with each class. Terry commended me on a job well done and noted that I did the best I could with the means available. He did make note to always put a strong focus on safety. This was a great visit as it enabled me not only to get an evaluation of my work but also to remind me to always be on guard and ready to give my best as at any time in the future an administrator could come in and observe my class. It's always a good idea to be on your toes!
Day 14 - Thursday February 10, 2011
So far in this experience, I have been met with positive interactions with students in my classes and enthusiastic and cooperative transitions in order to maximize game-play. Today, however, our period 5 class was a little less receptive. When organizing the class, some students were not moving quickly and were less than cooperative when directions were being given. Enthusiasm for the game was low and I was feeling a negative vibe from the class. At one point I told them that the longer they take to get set up the less time we could play. I noted that they were wasting their own time and not mine. It was at this moment I had, for the first time, asserted myself in a more aggressive manner to get the point across. After a few more moments, the class was back to normal, play resumed, and the smiles were back. I realize that all classes are different but the one thing that needs to remain constant is my demeanor and position as an authority figure.
Day 15 - Friday February 11, 2011
When Friday came, the first week of the XHL was in the books and it proved to be quite successful for the students and to me as well. The sport of team handball is beginning to become second nature to me and I have gotten down nearly 70% of the names of the 300 students in Mr. Reilly's classes. After three weeks, I am really starting to feel home at Longwood High School. I no longer restrict myself to Mr. Reilly's classes either. I assist Mr. Curley with his cardio unit, Mr. Schroeder with his outdoor education unit, and observed the option two class with Mr. Cipp and Mr. Roenbeck. These experiences will surely have a profound and positive impact on my experiences in this school. It is vital for teachers to collaborate with one another and be familiar with what else is being taught within the curriculum to other age groups and/or populations. With the third week now history, I look forward to the next five weeks of adventures at LHS!