Monday, February 14, 2011

Have a Seat, Put Your Feet Up, and Stay for a While!

Day 16 - Monday February 14, 2011
Today, I was eager to begin yet another week at Longwood High School. Myself and Mr. Reilly would continue the handball unit and, with it, the XHL tournament. I was surprised at how many students were eager to begin playing immediately. I was met with virtually no negative attitudes or unprepared students. This was truly a welcome moment as these days can be truly far and in between (especially for a Monday!). I turned in my lesson plan to Mr. Dillon and sought after new projects to work on to use and better develop the skills I have acquired. After 5th period, I asked Mr. Reilly if there was anything he would like for me to work on in terms of teaching, communication, etc. He stated that my presence in the classroom has been very good thus far and receptive of what the kids want and need to be energized to go. However, he fell back on a comment from a few weeks ago; he once again stated that he wants me to become more comfortable and social with the physical education staff. While it may seem like a silly sentiment, I still view these men and women as superiors even though we are colleagues. I shy away from contributing to off-color conversations and attributing to ones in which I have very little to add. However, he is right. Wherever I end up, I will have to cooperate with my co-workers and in essence accept them as peers and friends. While I gradually make my way up to breaking out a few jokes, I need to remember that they were all in my position once. All it takes to tear down the wall is some character and a good opening line!

Day 17 - Tuesday February 15, 2011
As I continue to move forward in the high school, I do not just simply limit myself to Mr. Reilly's classes and sit and do nothing during off periods. I tend to float between other teacher's classes to view other teaching styles and give them a hand if needed. One of the additional classes I enjoy helping out in is Mr. Schroeder's outdoor education class. After my experience at Raquette Lake, I am very enthusiastic about outdoor adventure. Currently, Mr. Schroeder's class was climbing the indoor rock wall in the auxiliary gymnasium. He had taught them how to belay, tips for climbing, and how to tie the proper knots. I would assist students in tying the knots as well as hooking up their belay system and a pre-flight check. One of the most important things to consider in this environment is the safety of the students, especially those climbing the wall. There were several instances in which I had to correct several students who were belaying. The major issue was that they would not lock the rope when they finished pulling up the slack. However, one girl did not listen and her climber, rather than dropping a few inches, fell down about 5-10 feet before she locked the rope. This is extremely important to reinforce safety precautions at every angle and at numerous times for all students. My supervisor Terry Phelan is very big on safety and I immediately thought of him at this moment. In order to engage in an activity such as this, safety must be addressed every class numerous times.

Day 18 - Wednesday February 16, 2011
For the only time of the school year, today would be a half-day for students in the high school for parent-teacher conference day. This is something I was familiar with in elementary school but not for the high school. However, when looking back on it, it seems better to have these conferences in the high school as it helps to steer students in the direction of their futures in a collaborative effort between teachers and parents. Mr. Reilly only had a few appointments for the day and I sat in and listened to what he said and what the parents had to say. It's interesting to note that the parents who came were those of students who were achieving highly in class. This can be attributed to any number of reasons but nonetheless it was good to see parents taking an interest in their student's academic careers. As I stated earlier, it is crucial for the teacher to work closely with the parent to identify strengths, weaknesses, as well as potential extracurricular activities that may spark interest in a future career. This day was not only a huge growth professionally but also personally. It was truly the first time all the male teachers were together in the same room at the same time sharing stories of the past and conversing informally. There were lots of laughs to be had and memories shared and made. This is the day I can pinpoint where I feel a warm sense of belonging and look forward to the rest of my time here!

Day 19 - Thursday February 17, 2011
"Make the call, you're the ref!" That was a big theme for the day. In several of the classes, the energy level was high which resulted in some very impressive displays of athletic talent in the team handball games. During class, after my introduction and warm-up, we move right into the games where myself and Mr. Reilly play the role of referees. After doing team handball for so many classes this year, it's easy to note rule infractions and penalties. However, much like all referees in any sport, it can be hard to see some plays and even harder to make a split decision call based upon the play. Sometimes I just react and sometimes I hesitate leading to cries of making the call in both directions. Mr. Reilly simply told me, "just make the call right away they'll forget about it quickly." This is probably the most important advice I've gotten based upon my officiating. I need to be fair and impartial and not be biased towards one group of kids over another nor show favoritism. After all, this isn't a professional handball league. If the referee calls are blown, we move on and continue to play. It's much better to defer an argument rather than address it and waste time. It's difficult for the students to understand that I have better angles of the play watching than they do playing. Even though I have blown a call or two, they kids still have fun and respect me for what I am doing.

Day 20 - Friday February 18, 2011
As we conclude this week, the half-way milestone has already been reached! It's hard to believe that four weeks had gone by so quickly and with mid-winter recess next week, there is only a mere three weeks left before this placement is over. Today was notable in that attendance was rather low. It seemed as if students took advantage of the day and opted to begin their vacation a little prematurely. With this in mind, it's easy to note the perceived 'burn-out' rate of public school students. They begin each year, as with every year before, knowing when their vacations are and what is expected of them throughout the year. As we reach those days off, the students, after weeks of overload from their various subjects of work, grow weary and look forward to the upcoming time off. It is important not to overload the students at this age as it may turn them off schoolwork and academics in general. On the other hand, stimulating the brain is always a good thing. The students who did come to school made it worthwhile and a great time was had by all in class. They really let loose and enjoyed themselves playing team handball. While I too am a bit overwhelmed from my work, I look forward to this nice little break!

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