Teacher Reports on Professional Development
I attended the Houston Branch International Dyslexia Association's (HBIDA) spring meeting. The keynote speaker, Dr. Suzanne Carreker from Neuhaus Education Center, spoke on "Reading Comprehension: Reading Between, Among, and Beyond the Lines." Her emphasis was on teaching children to make inferences, the most critical of all comprehension skills. Dr. Carreker shared the Simple View of Reading (SVR) formula (reading comprehension is a product of decoding and language comprehension. If one component of the formula is missing, there can be no comprehension. We were given the requirements for inference making (oral language, background knowledge, maintaining text consistency, understanding text elements, and integrating information) and tools for designing instruction that supports inference making.
As I sat through Dr. Carreker's informative speech, I kept wishing that all teachers could hear her message. It is a simple yet profound reality of any teacher who expects students to read a textbook or a novel.
Lower School Reading Specialist
The American Counseling Association conference offered hundreds of courses, many of which were applicable to school counseling. Some of the most beneficial were “Pathways to Resilience: Play-Based Disaster Intervention Techniques”; “Holistic Solutions for Harnessing Resiliency in Time of Crisis”; “Children & Chronic Sorrow: Reconceptualizing the Emotional Impact of Parental Rejection and Its Treatment”; “Art/Play Therapy”; “Counseling Theories in Practice”; “Child-Centered Play Therapy”; “Disaster Mental Health: Providing Support to Young Children in Crisis”; and “Tough Kids / Cool Counselors.”
Some of the pearls I learned were to empathize with the trauma, while being curious about the surviving (e.g., asking “How were you able to survive that?” and “Could you draw a picture that you think may help another kid?”). See them as survivors. Have them keep a survival diary. Enhance their attachments/bonding after trauma (e.g., play Duck, Duck, Hug game). They can draw their crisis and then burn it, and then mix it with clay to create a symbol of hope. Bubbles can be used to blow away stress or keep hope afloat.
Many ideas were presented and role-played throughout the conference, both for group and individual therapy sessions. Interactions were modeled for how to respond to a child’s artwork in a way that encourages sharing during this time. Carl Rogers’ and DBT theories of siding with the child’s affect before challenging any behaviors was stressed, as well as the concept of radical acceptance.
Lower School Counselor
The trip to University of Florida football clinic was a huge success. The first keynote speaker was veteran defensive line coach, Pete Jenkins, who spoke at length about his Pass Rush vs. Drop Back Protection concepts. After Jenkins’ presentation, there were breakout sessions by individual position. I attended the "chalk talk" of Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator for the University of Florida.
The next day, we had an early meeting discussing recruitment ethics, and Florida's expectation for relationships between high school and college coaches. They explained to us the changes in the NCAA rules regarding recruiting. In the afternoon, we attended the Florida spring football practice. In the evening, we had another meeting discussing the athlete and psychology. More and more studies show that positive thinking and “out of the box approaches” towards athletes are important for success.
On the final day, while the University of Florida team played a spring game, I spotted Pete Jenkins sitting alone under a tent on the sideline. I spent the next several hours talking with him about football, coaching, and life. It was a wonderful opportunity to soak up some priceless knowledge.
Physical Education and Athletics
The coaching convention this spring in Las Vegas proved to be beneficial on a number of levels. While there I was able to earn my level 1 goalkeeping license. The various field courses taught by world class players and coaches have also added a number of new ideas and strategies to my coaching arsenal.
Varsity Soccer coach
I attended the one-day Thrill of Discovery workshop at NASA in March. Much like the moon conference I attended last summer, this workshop was designed to give information about recent NASA missions within the solar system, and to suggest activities and projects related to these missions that we can do with our students. I particularly enjoyed the parts where we worked on hands-on activities and labs that we could do with our students. I will be very interested in trying one of the labs, which illustrates how different amounts of light are reflected from irregular objects like asteroids, with my students next year. We also went through a simplified version of a project on planning a mission to someplace in the solar system, and I think that would be fun to try as well. We heard lectures on the Stardust and Messenger missions (to asteroids/comets and Mercury respectively) given by the chief scientists in charge of the missions. I was very excited to learn about the Messenger mission, which had just entered orbit around Mercury a few days before the workshop. We got to see the very first results from that spacecraft, before these were released to the general public! One thing that really struck me was how much science there is in the design of these crafts as well as in the results they gather. I found this workshop to be engaging, informative, fun, and highly worthwhile. I look forward to continued participation in future NASA workshops.
Upper School Science
Attending the Organization of American Historians meeting was a valuable experience. I went to eight sessions over the three days, and I spent time looking through the publishers’ exhibits at new textbooks and getting ideas for potential interim classes. In fact, I found a book on the ‘sixties from Oxford Press that would be ideal for an interim course. During the sessions I heard the latest debates on areas of particular interest to me, including the Civil War, Reconstruction, American Jewish history, and Women’s history. I also attended a session that was specially designed for secondary school and community college teachers and focused on engaging the “millennial” generation. After the session ended I had an interesting conversation with several public teachers who were in attendance. It was eye opening to hear the challenges they face in their classrooms and certainly made me appreciate the quality of education our students receive. Overall, the conference was stimulating and intellectually worthwhile.
Upper School History
The theme of the HIBDA (Houston Branch of the International Dyslexia Association) conference was “Reading, Literacy and Learning.” The keynote speaker was Dr. Suzanne Carreker, vice-president of Research and Program Development at Neuhaus Education Center. She is the author “Scientific Spelling,” which we use in our Lower School. She was informative and evoked audience participation. Other speakers were William Van Cleave and David Berg, but the star was the person with dyslexia who talked about the experiences and battles she faced growing up. I always come away with renewed commitment and energy to address the needs of these students.
Lower School Instructional Specialist
The Soccer Champions Coaches Clinic served a dual purpose for me. First, I was able to attend this small, intimate conference with eight presenters, including Tony DiCicco, Ray Reid, Anson Dorrance and Brandi Chastain, who are at the very cutting edge of soccer in the United States. Second, I took extra courses and successfully earned my “E” coaching license.
Unlike most of the conventions I have attended, the SCCC hit so many different aspects of the game, I found very little overlap from presenters. The small number of coaches attending really provided a great opportunity to delve into specific ideas and philosophies of the presenters. I was exhausted at the end of each day, both mentally and physically. The combination of being able to participate as a player and learn through lecture really appealed to me. Also, being able to hear from the great minds of United States soccer gave me a good understanding of where the game is right now.
Earning the “E” license was mostly review, but I was able to gain some good ideas on team management. The course was a 20-hour process that took us through the very basics of soccer, focusing on the team management side of the game. Since one of my goals is to earn a “B” license, completing the prerequisite “E” course was a natural step in achieving that goal.
I found this conference to be one of the very best I have attended in some time. This was the first effort from the SCCC (an NSCAA offshoot), and I am sure the positive results will warrant SCCC conventions using this format in the future.
Physical Education and Athletics/Head Boys’ Soccer Coach
I attended the Will Muschcamp football clinic at the University of Florida. The first night was the most beneficial for me because I found out that Jack Del Rio (Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars) was speaking to local high school coaches about his run-blocking schemes. The turnout wasn’t great, which allowed more interaction, and it was awesome! I learned that we were teaching our guards incorrect mechanics on the way we pull and kick out the defensive end, and I think that will really help on our power play.
The second day was filled with clinics. Coach Sanders and I listened to Pete Jenkins talk about defensive line play. Jenkins was a great speaker and had a lot of good information to share. Later I had time alone with Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator for the University of Florida, who gave me some great insight into what he looks for during the game.
The on-the-field experience also was beneficial. Last year at Notre Dame, we got to watch only from a distance. This year at Florida, we were allowed to roam and watch drills and listen to team meetings. I enjoyed this aspect of the clinic more than any other clinic that we have been to!
Physical Education and Athletics/Head Football CoachI attended a speech by Dr. Jane Goodall at the Wortham Theater, sponsored by The Progressive Forum in association with The Houston Zoo. In her speech, “Gombe and Beyond: The Next 50 Years,” Dr. Goodall talked about her personal and professional journey going back to Shores of Lake Tanganyika fifty years ago. It was incredible to hear the story behind the public story about the study of chimpanzee behavior. We did get to hear about chimps, but, more than that, we got a true look at a scientist whose passion, patience, and perseverance took her from her fieldwork in what is now Tanzania's Gombe National Park to becoming the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the UN Messenger of Peace. It was an extraordinary evening.
Upper School Science