Last But Not Least

This was by far the quickest semester of my collegiate career, grad or undergrad.  I guess it helps being extremely busy and only taking classes on Monday and Tuesday.  I handed in my final projects for my online class – 25 pages –  and my Invasion Games Notebook – 27 pages – and now I only have to take two exams next week, one at 2:00 pm on Monday and another at 8:00 am on Tuesday.

My graduate assistantship is ending next week as well and it is calming down here in the office.  The good news is I will be doing this next year as well along with the Mentoring program, in which I will mentor 4-6 students on academic probation to try to get them back on the right track towards a successful academic career.  I hope to find it very fulfilling and a positive experience going forward in my college administration path.

So if you could not tell by the title of my post, this is the last entry of my graduate blogging journey.  It has been fun and I am grateful for the opportunity to write for and represent Canisius College.  My semesters in the Physical Education Graduate program were not for nothing, even though I am transferring out of it.  They left me with great friends, a true sense of what I wanted to do in life, and gave me the opportunity to meet some great faculty and staff members at the college who are fantastic at what they do. On my way out I’d like to thank Clancy Seymour for setting me up with this and Mike George for letting me write for the School of Education and Human Services Web site, it was a wonderful experience.

Ready Set Teach

Two weeks ago I received a phone call asking me if I would be interested in accepting a long-term substitute teaching assignment for an elementary school.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity seeing that it was going to take me to the end of the school year.  This is what I have wanted, a class of my own, the ability to teach my lessons how I want to, and to see how the students progress from one class to the next.  How much more exciting can it get, especially when I am in the process of interviewing for positions for next year?  Then it finally hit me, all of the possible fears that a first-year teacher could have, which I have to say surprised me since I have a vast amount of teaching knowledge and a top-notch education which should allow me all the confidence necessary to do an outstanding job.  But somehow this was different, in many ways this is an extended job interview both for myself and the school district.

As for me, this was my opportunity to take a test drive in my new career path.  While I firmly believe that I have chosen a career best suited to me, there is always that shadow of a doubt that can creep into one’s mind.  Well I can honestly say after my first week of teaching that there is no doubt in my mind that I am in the right career for me and that my education at Canisius prepared me to take on any students.  After my second day I started to notice that the warm-up that the students have been doing since the first day of school was no longer keeping their attention.  So I decided to take a minute to go back through my class notes and textbooks and find some new warm-up activities.  Not exactly sure how they would go over I tested one out on a second grade class.  I would love to say that it was a huge hit, but that would not be doing it justice.  The students loved being able to do something new and exciting.  So at that point I knew that I could not only finish the school year, but also be a teacher.

While I am having a great time I have to always keep in mind that this is also an opportunity for the district to observe me and decided that if a position were to open if I would be a good fit.  Just because I have been subbing in that district for over a year as well as coaching soccer and track & field does not mean that I am the front runner for any open positions.  So each day I need to remember that the athletic director or principal could stop into my class at anytime to observe my teaching style and how I relate to the students.  Because of this I must stay on my toes for the entire period and deliver the lesson of my life each and every day.

So in short I have in the past week decided two very important facts.  First, I am an outstanding teacher who has developed many skills and resources in order to deliver great lessons and keep students engaged in learning.  Next, the professors I had at Canisius fully prepared me for the challenges that lie ahead. Even though I came to them with a wealth of non-school teaching experience, they helped me to improve my teaching methods and lesson planning.  All of this together will provide me a better opportunity to wow an interview in the future and increase my chances of obtaining a position in the near future.

Stay tuned for more about the wonderful world of subbing.

Making the Switch

This week has been much quieter than last as the academic semester is coming to a close.  Two of my classes did not meet to give the student and teachers an opportunity to prepare for our final assignments and exams.  I have a notebook assignment due Monday, along with my culminating online assignment that should take me the entire weekend to finish.  Exams are then given the following week, May 10-14.  The Dean’s Office, on the other hand, is very busy as seniors are making sure they can walk during the graduation ceremony and underclassmen are checking in to make sure they are on track with their courses and such.  Ah, I remember those good ole’ days of being an undergrad.

With only two weeks left in the school year, I made a decision that will undoubtedly change my life and career path for the future.  I knew going into the Physical Education program that I would probably not teach for the rest of my life, and that I would eventually pursue a career in administration.  I have found out sooner rather than later that it is time for me to change programs at Canisius to the College Student Personnel Administration program.  I’ve discovered this semester that teaching just was not in the cards for me, and through my assistantship and desire to get into administration I have decided to chase this career path.  This is no reflection on the Physical Education program at all as I enjoyed the time spent with my classmates and teachers, but rather it was a personal decision that I realized I had to make.  Changing programs within the School of Education was a process that was made easy with the assistance of the School of Education and Human Services staff.  I met today with the director of the CSPA program and she told me all I needed to know about the program and then sent me to an administrative associate to finalize the process.  I begin in the Fall.

I am beginning to realize that the Bills hopefully know more than I do about the NFL and the Draft and that is why they took the players they did.  I am way more worried about our offensive line than I am about the quarterback because I think that next year is a much stronger QB class than this year.  I hope they also trade Lynch so that Spiller can have as many carries as possible (not too much to ask from the #9 selection in the NFL draft).  We’ll eventually put all the pieces together – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Hard work pays off

Well, I have to say that the hard work that I have put into the subbing and coaching has finally paid off.  Over the past two years I have done everything that I could to get and keep my foot in the door at a particular school district.  I have coached two sports, one of which I had never coached before, been the second set of eyes for not only the high school but also the middle school, taught three classes for staff development day, and subbed for any and all subjects.  All-and-all I have to say that I have spent more time in the district than most of the full-time teachers there.  Well, finally on Friday, it all paid off.

Don’t start congratulations yet. No, I did not get a full-time position, but I did get the next best thing.  I was offered not one but two long-term subbing positions at the same time.  You ask how is that possible? It is due to the fact that the teacher going out on leave can suggest their replacement and as long as the building principal approves, you’re in.  Well, on Friday I received a phone call from a teacher in need of shoulder surgery and will be out until the last week of school.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity to take this assignment.  Then, when I arrived at practice that day, I was asked to fill in for the next month while a teacher was out for grand jury duty.  Since I had already accepted the other position I had to turn down the second.  But I have to say it felt great to have two different teachers feel comfortable enough to ask me to take over their classes during their extended absence.

So I guess the moral of this story is to make sure you take the time when subbing to make an impression.  The regular teacher knows when you follow their lesson plan and keep order in the class while other teachers and building administrators will notice if you put your best foot forward and keep control during the day.  So never just look at a subbing job as a way to put a few dollars in your pocket. You are a teacher and need to act like one at all times.  If you go in and only care about a paycheck for the day I know that word will get around and you may not get as many subbing assignments as you like.

The best part about all of this is that Canisius has prepared me to step into any classroom or gymnasium on any given day and teach a quality lesson.  So for any one out there subbing, take any assignment that you can get and I promise you that you have been prepared for the challenges that will come you way.  As we all know, students love to test the sub.

High Ropes Course

This was an especially exciting week for me, as two of my classes were over and I was suspended forty feet in the air by my fellow classmates.  Sounds more dangerous than it was, I actually just climbed a rock wall for my Outdoor Curriculum class while four or five of my classmates billeted me.  Billeting is when they control the rope that holds me so I do not fall.  Our teachers, Mr. Warner and Mr. Chaffee, did a fantastic job of making sure that we felt as safe as possible on the ropes and that no one was in an danger (even though when you are up there you cannot help but feel scared, at least I did!).  Heights are not my cup of tea so I did not particularly enjoy going up so high.  We had three activities we could choose from: the rock wall, the zip line, and the horizontal wires.  Everybody knows what the rock wall and zip line is, but you may not all be familiar with the horizontal wires.  Basically, they are two wires about 35 feet in the air between two poles or towers.  The wires are separated by four feet, so one is 35 feet in the air and the other is 39, right on top of each other.  The bottom wire is for your feet and the top one is for your hands, and you walk across the wires to the other side.  It looked horrific.  I did not do that one.  I only did the rock wall, and let me tell you it is way more exhausting than anything else.  Making it to the top was a feat I am certainly proud of, not only because it was so high but also because it tired me out so badly that it took every ounce of energy to get there.  The great part about the ropes course was that it culminated everything we’ve done in the course up to that point.  The building community exercises and the trust falls all helped us become more familiar with each other and more comfortable with the idea of our peers keeping us alive, essentially – my favorite course this semester, by far.

The only sad part about that is that it is over now, and so is my Methods class.  OK its not actually sad, its pretty awesome.  You know what else is awesome, the Sabres in the playoffs and the NFL Draft on Thursday.  Sabres need to win tonight to avoid a 3-1 hole, which would pretty much end the series (there’s my Buffalo pessimism rearing its ugly head), and the Bills need to hit on all of their draft picks.  Now is that so hard?  And my preseason prediction for the Bills, 14-2.

Teacher Recruitment Days…glad they are over

Well, I have made it through Teacher Recruitment Days and let me tell you it was an experience I hope I never have to go through again anytime soon.  For those that are wondering what I am talking about, don’t worry, I am going to give you as detailed a description of the two day event as I can.  For those that were there and know what I’m talking about, I hope you find some humor in my recounting of the day’s events.

You first arrive and stand in line waiting to get checked in, as you begin to notice how many other future teachers there are out there, yet having no idea how many share the same certification as you.  Finally, they release the hounds and allow people to check in and move into the orientation room.  Upon entering that room, you have the opportunity to check the wall to see what districts are actually there and what areas they are looking for.  So yet again you are surrounded by hundreds pursuing the same thing you are, all the while thinking “can I get an interview and impress someone enough to continue in the process?”

After a short meeting you are then released into the ballroom in order to spend the next 45 minutes meeting as many people from districts around the country in hopes that you can land an interview over the next two days.  Since there were several districts there and only 45 minutes you need to move quickly and plan accordingly.  Before you know it they are calling time and instructing all of the teachers to leave the room and head to the waiting area.  Now at this point the fun begins, and you begin to prepare for any upcoming interviews that you were able to schedule.  Now you ask what happens if you didn’t schedule an interview.  Is your day over?  No, not at all. However, some people did leave for the day.  For those who stayed, there were boards on which districts would post available interview times for the certification areas that they are looking for.  As a result, you can pick up a couple interviews that way.

So, upon completing your interviews, you can go home to relax and prepare for day two, which is a totally different animal.  Wait, did I say day two? Yes I did, as this day focuses on the Erie and Niagara county schools. However, the other schools from around the nation are still there and available for interviews.  Now, for day two, there is a chance that each district set up their interviews in advance, but once again don’t worry if you don’t have one scheduled…there is still a lottery process.  During the lottery you get to put your name in a hat and they will draw for additional interview spots.  So, if you are smart enough to stay and lucky enough to win a lottery position, you can get an interview for the day.

So, as you see, this is two long and tiring days, which I loved every minute of.  Unfortunately there were not many Physical Education positions available, but my secondary certification of Family and Consumer Sciences was in high demand.  As a result I completed the two days with 12 interviews and three really great possibilities.  So for those of you that many not have a firm grasp of the two day event, it is the job search version of speed dating.  You get 2 minutes to make an impression and then if you do that you get 20 minutes for an interview to see if you are good enough.

Now please don’t get me wrong, there were several people that did an outstanding job in setting up and running the event.  I would like to send a huge thank you to any and all that were involved in either the planning, two days of running the event, or cleaning up from the event.  You all deserve an extra day off tell your boss I said so.