After a little encouragement, I opted to use blogging as a self reflection tool for my professional development assessment this year.
I have a lot to write about.
First, I feel like I need to acknowledge that I feel outclassed. I have referred to myself as a new teacher. This is only my 5th year as a full time teacher. Sure, I’ve taught things for a long time but I didn’t go to school to become a teacher and despite my ever-present cynicism about the disconnect between higher education and the working world I’ll always feel sub-standard. To further undermine my self-confidence, about two years ago someone at an all-faculty meeting pointed out the very high percentage of staff with advanced degrees at our school. There is also the constantly present awareness that “it’s just PE” that I teach. As much as I believe in the importance of health and long-term recreational activity I know that in a school that is clearly focused on college preparation that the content that I deliver isn’t as critical as core subjects. I felt similar about my role as a Parks and Recreation Director where my peers were the Chief of Police, Fire Marshal, Public Works Director, Harbormaster… the services I provided, while important to many people, were not critical.
So then, and now, I make up for that self-perceived lack of necessity by committing myself to other organizational needs.
My first year at AISC, in addition to my “day job” I also coached three sports. Last year I added a few committees. This year I dropped down to two sports, but have added a large number of other roles ranging from easy occasional meetings of a group of people looking to improve the music at staff social functions, to being the Head of the PE Department. Other pies I have my finger in include leading the Design Thinking Innovation Team and serving on the Head’s Round Table.
I know I am over-committed. I know that every additional role I take on robs from my effectiveness in some other role — perhaps that as a husband or father, but often that of a good teacher.
Speaking of being a good teacher, this year we made huge changes to the PE course offerings. Inherited was a course list that was PE9, PE10, Personal Fitness and Team and Individual Sports. We eliminated PE10 and the team and individual sports classes and added semester-long classes that include Health (a graduation requirement), making separate personal fitness classes for each gender, Yoga and Flow Arts, Endurance Training, Racket and Batting Sports, and Adventure Activities.
Before, our PE9 and 10 classes were largely the same. The prep for one was nearly identical. Same location, same equipment, and often almost identical lessons. Adding these electives has made for many more venue and equipment changes, entirely new lessons and a whole lot less shooting from the hip.
I have the luxury of teaching one less class than most of my peers to give me time to coordinate the Discover India program. This year, for scheduling reasons, instead of one class less for the whole year I had two classes less during the first semester which was great since that’s when our Discover India trips happen. But in the spring semester I’ve got a full course load of four different classes to prep for — three of them that I am teaching for the first time this semester. Planning for the Discover India trips for next year all has to happen in the next few months too.
Making some of it easier is that Holly taught Health last semester so she has shared plenty of great material to work with, though I need to modify her materials because I want to use a lot more Adaptive Schools protocols in the classroom.
It is great working with Holly. We really work so well together. In fact, our office is remarkably high functioning considering that there are 9 of us in there amidst the chaos of students coming in for band aids or borrowed PE uniforms.
I felt pretty positive about my classes and other commitments through December. I know things can always be better. I’m always trying to improve my teaching, grading, and practices and I’ll write more about those.