Teacher Reports on Professional Development
I attended an Advanced Placement Chinese workshop in Houston. At the workshop, I learned valuable information, including the recent updates on the latest contents tested on the AP exam. This will help me better prepare my lesson plans and benefit my students in grasping important concepts. The workshop provided great ideas for projects to engage students and help them learn the language. I also learned how the AP Chinese grading system works and am now able to implement it in the way I grade my students' classroom assignments.
Upper School Chinese
The Landscaping with Native Plants class at the arboretum was excellent. In it we toured and discussed the Arboretum’s five new Wildlife Demonstration Gardens. We covered information on the thirty-six most common trees, shrubs and vines native to the greater Houston area. This included their growth habits, light requirements and water tolerances. Information was also given on plants that will attract butterflies and birds. In addition, there was a classroom presentation of website resources, and the instructor is giving a one-hour private session to each student in order to cover individual questions about landscaping with native plants.
Lower School Science
Sports Science for the Endurance Events is part of a program called the Master's Endorsement Program, which is designed to prepare coaches to train athletes at all levels in preparation for elite performance. This 12-hour section is designed to introduce the science behind running and training.
Taught by two coaches from Mississippi State University, the course was divided into two sections. Most of the course is focused on the physiology of endurance events, with some emphasis on endurance biomechanics. The most helpful part was discussing the physiological components of the human body and the systems used while running. In broad terms, we discussed the aerobic, anaerobic and musculoskeletal systems. Depending on the distance being run, the athlete uses different energy systems. Knowing the demands on the system allows you to focus your training and development on a specific system. Within the aerobic system I need to work on cardiovascular, muscular and metabolic development of an athlete. If a race demands more energy from the anaerobic systems, such as the 800m or 1500m, the demands for alactic or glycolytic energy increase and need to be trained.
A recurring theme of the course was "the heart is a pump, the heart is a muscle.” We need to work the heart to get stronger and do more work with less energy. VO2 max, or the volume of oxygen pumped through the system as it relates to heart rate and stroke volume, is a limiting factor in an athlete’s ability. A younger athlete with a less developed system will be limited by the lack of oxygen being pumped through the system and to the muscles that are using nutrients and building up waste. Training based on VO2 max percentages allows the athlete to work on specific systems in the body. If you train below 95% of VO2 you are working on cellular development, and if you are above 95% you are working on VO2 max development by working the heart as a muscle. VO2 is a great guide for performing workouts and training sessions. Depending on the level of intensity and volume of running, we can focus on different systems. I look forward to using these ideas to improve training and skill development in our distance runners. The more we are able to focus on specific areas based on events, the better training we will be able to give our athletes.
Head Varsity Track Coach
The Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association 2011 Convention in Baltimore was great. The speakers, starting with Jim Berkman, a perennial top 10 coach and one of the best presenters out there, gave great information on Developing a Man Up unit, something we needed to hear at all levels. Next came Dom Starsia, a living legend in the game and the Division I National Champion. Coach Starsia gave a great presentation about completely changing philosophies to adapt to his players. For 22 years Virginia has been a pressure man-to-man defense, but due to injuries and personnel, they had to change to a zone team. He did a great job explaining how and why they made the change.
Saturday morning presented us with four great talks, and having our full staff there allowed us to hear them all. I attended a talk by Bill Tierney, former Princeton head coach and current University of Denver head coach. He spoke about planning the year and how to use the talent you have, along with simple adjustments based on your personnel. Later that afternoon, I listened to the University of Maryland staff and got many useful drills such as the 4-cone drill for stick handling, Auburn shooting drill, and triple shot—all drills that are great for skill development and conditioning. Sunday morning we listened to new High Point University assistant coach Pat Tracy talk about developing dodgers.
All the presentations provided useful tips and reminders about things we already do. Again I think one of the best things about the conference is the time spent as a staff. Our long and in-depth conversations were had about lacrosse, training techniques, focuses for different levels and program wide vocabulary.
Head Varsity Boys Lacrosse Coach
At the IMLCA Lacrosse Conference in Baltimore, I heard several great speakers, including the coaching staffs from the University of Maryland, High Point University, Dartmouth College, Denison College, and Salisbury University. Each was helpful and informative. I brought home several new drills, along with a better understanding of how practices should be run. It amazes me that we could get to hear such knowledgeable coaches.
Physical Education and Athletics
At the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association 2011 Convention in Baltimore, I was able to attend six lectures by some of the best college lacrosse coaches in the country. Friday night I learned about man-up progressions and practice from Jim Berkman from Salisbury University. The second lecture on Friday night was given by Division I champion head coach Dom Starsia of the University of Virginia about stick work and shooting.
On Saturday I attended three lectures: “Clearing and Riding,” by Lars Tiffany of Brown University; “Multiple Set MUMBO Package,” by Chris Burdick of Providence College; and the best lecture of the conference, “Simple Defensive Solutions to Disrupt an Offense,” by Dave Carty of Pace University.
Sunday I heard an excellent drill lecture, “Developing the Dodger,” by Pat Tracy from High Point University. My participation in this program was enjoyable, enlightening and collegial.
Upper School Science, Lacrosse Coach
At the IMLCA 2011 Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, I attended several clinics: Lars Tiffany on clearing and riding; Pat Tracy on developing the dodger; and Brian Becht ("Practice Preparation for Success on Game Day”). Becht also included his coaching staff in the presentation. This presentation was outstanding, and I most definitely will use my notes from it this lacrosse season.
Physical Education and Athletics
I thoroughly enjoyed attending the 2011 NAIS People of Color Conference in Philadelphia. With its roster of excellent speakers and varied workshops, the PoCC provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to understand the necessity of building diversity within a school community and to reflect on its significant impact on the lives of our students. Three of the keynote speakers shared a similar theme: gratitude for the opportunity to attend private schools where the care and expectations demonstrated by teachers changed their lives. Their stories made me feel proud to be part of an educational community that values and supports efforts to diversify its student body, but their comments also made me realize the importance of appreciating the academic and social challenges faced by students of color who attend independent schools.
Strategies for addressing these challenges appeared as the underlying focus in a majority of the workshops offered at PoCC. “Rereading Canonical Literature: The Case for To Kill a Mockingbird,” presented by teachers from the Wilmington Friends School, offered suggestions for preparing students to understand the racial tension presented in Lee’s novel. The “Research, Review and Rewrite” model they presented includes having students conduct era research prior to reading the novel so that they gain a better understanding of the story’s historical context and can empathize with the characters. After sharing the findings of their research topics, students then rewrite a scene from a minor character’s perspective. The discussions generated in this workshop convinced me of the value of having my eighth graders do some preliminary work on the economic and political climate of the early 20th century, and I am considering the scene rewrite as a way for them to understand the novel from a variety of perspectives. A second workshop, “States of Denial: ‘Coping the Best Way We Can…’,” presented by teachers from the Brooklyn Friends School, offered data about the formation of socio-cultural identity and, through video and role-play activities, revealed the importance of facilitating more authentic and healthy conversations about race, culture, and ethnicity. This workshop provided me with a good advisory activity that illustrates how assumptions about identity can determine how individuals act and react to others. Other workshops I attended focused on language (“Valuing African-American Language and Culture in the Middle School Years”) and stereotypes (“Reducing the Negative Effects of Racism-Related Stressors”). Both presentations highlighted patterns of behavior that African-American students may demonstrate in the classroom and offered suggestions for improving the learning environment. The research made me re-think my reaction to certain behaviors and reminded me of the importance of providing clear expectations and affirmative feedback.
I could write more about the work I did during the affinity group sessions and the value of discussing methods for improving conversations about diversity in our schools, but, to conclude, I will simply say that the PoCC earns its reputation for excellence.
Middle School English
I enjoyed my first NAIS People of Color Conference in Philadelphia. I’d heard great things about the conference, so it was good to experience it first hand. I have highlighted a few of the sessions that I found to be interesting and/or useful.
“Media Literacy 101: How Do Race and Media Affect My Classroom?” was particularly appealing because media outlets, specifically movies, are among the most influential ways values and norms are formed and shaped in society. In this session we analytically looked at popular films for the racial and socioeconomic commentary. While these things are easy to miss, since they often are subtle or so normal they are hidden in plain sight, racial stereotypes are prevalent in Hollywood. I will have a new way of looking at movies. I think this will be useful in engaging students in conversations about their favorite movies beyond topics that they may normally discuss.
“Touching the Untouchable: Unpacking Race and Class in Our Independent Schools,” led by Steven Jones, a renowned diversity consultant, included things that several of my colleagues and I have discussed in the last couple of years. One statistic I thought was particularly noteworthy was about the ratio of white to non-white children. For children under one year, the ratio is one-to-one. This implies that the landscape and culture of schools will evolve over time. Jones talked about how we need to change the language we use to talk about diversity so that we appreciate all cultures and backgrounds. Trust is a key feature in breaking down barriers. He said it is not that people do not want diversity, but they do not trust each other (and perhaps their schools) enough to have an open dialogue about critical issues.
I also attended a session entitled “The Marginalization of the African-American Male Student-Athlete” “Life for African-American male student-athletes in independent schools presents both opportunities and challenges,” according to an excerpt in the PoCC program. David Watts from the Campbell Hall School in California conducted a study of sixty African-American students to understand their experiences in independent schools. We discussed how it can be challenging for student-athletes of color to deal with the expectations of peers and parents. Often the students are thought to be inferior academically due to their background, and this stigma can lead to alienation from peers and even teachers. As we discussed how student-athletes can experience marginalization from all sides, it became apparent that there is no simple solution. There need to be education and support from all parties to facilitate change.
In summary, I found the PoCC very useful. More than anything I feel like I have and will continue to be more conscious of issues of diversity.
Upper School Mathematics
I thoroughly enjoyed the 2011 People of Color Conference in Philadelphia this year. Perhaps my greatest highlight was the opportunity to "update our status" (in accordance with this year's theme) through speakers, workshops, colleagues, and new and old friends. Here are a few highlights.
First, I visited Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, near Philadelphia. Two points that I thought particularly relevant for me in the area of diversity are what they were doing in the Middle School Day of Service and Mix It Up Week and in the Upper School freshman retreat. Since all of their work in diversity, character education, and service learning are couched within the school's mission, it seems to be quite consistent that the work they are doing would be part of the school's culture and without resistance.
As I thought about what Episcopal Academy is doing, I felt like Kinkaid is getting on the right page. We have the ideas, and we are working and moving forward. However, what I appreciated about Episcopal is that they are very deliberate when making decisions (long-term, not temporary), they seem to be quite pro-active in "front loading" faculty, parents, alumni, and any other constituents who may be affected, and they have a team of educators (and a consultant) who work with the diversity director and divisional coordinators to plan, strategize, and implement deliberate activities.
Wes Moore opened the conference by sharing his story. I walked away thinking I am fortunate, and at any time I could have gotten caught up in the wrong group and traveled in the wrong direction, like so many people ahead of me. I realized how much I take for granted and the impact that I can have on others within my community and family. From that, I thought about our students and wondered how we can ensure their success. What can we do to help make sure that the wrong decisions/ bad choices they make will not be detrimental to their future? Overall, the speakers were insightful and thought provoking, usually with some humor and sometimes even with tears. I am never disappointed with the quality of speakers at PoCC.
This year I focused mainly on workshops about moving our faculty, a group of intelligent, professional, and powerful agents of change. Perhaps the most interesting and insightful workshops were "Now that You're Here, What Will Make You Stay?," "Courageous Conversations: Leading a Conversation with Faculty About Race," and "The Marginalization of the African-American Male Student-Athlete." However, I think I learned the most from the workshop "Three Phases of Purposeful Professional Development: A Case Study (at Lakeside School).” Lakeside has a three-phase approach to professional development in the work of diversity that spans a ten-year period. While each phase is carefully defined, with goals and avenues for implementation, there is no rush. They were precise in their actions, they shared the successes and failures of both the community and the administration, and they knew where they wanted to go! They hired experts (and fired them), they had (and continue) to have those difficult conversations with faculty and parents, they include work in diversity as a requirement of their professional development and offer options for various opportunities that will be accepted by the school. They did not distinctively define the three phases except in hindsight, but I believe their work serves as a great model for schools moving forward in the same direction.
Just as important for me was the opportunity to connect and reconnect with colleagues. From having lunch and dinner with the Kinkaid faculty to reflecting with my Klingenstein Cohort to building relationships with the other PoCC 2012 Co-Chairs, the personal connections are always the most enriching and valuable aspects of the conference.
Middle School Dean
The People of Color Conference in Philadelphia was uplifting and enriching. There were almost four thousand participants this year. I enjoyed the time spent talking with colleagues from Kinkaid whom I rarely get to see and meeting other teachers and administrators from independent schools around the country.
The opening speaker and author, Wes Moore, had many thoughtful things to share about his experiences as a student in an independent school. Because one adult in his life cared, he was able to overcome situational obstacles and earn a great education. His message that raising kids is complicated, and raising kids in a bad environment is even harder, carries a lot of weight with me. It takes people who are willing to fight for, teach, and guide kids to a better future to save kids from going down the wrong path.
I attended many wonderful workshops at this year’s conference. The two I enjoyed the most were “Mural Arts: African American Iconic Images,” and “’That’s Not Fair!’ Are Students Ever Too Young to Learn About Social Justice?”
The conference provides such a wonderful opportunity to address and support diversity issues and successes within independent schools.
I attended the annual People of Color Conference in Philadelphia. I did not really know what to expect; some of my colleagues who have attended in the past had said it was a powerful experience. In the large group meetings we had powerful guest speakers and wonderful student performances. However, most of my time was spent in smaller sessions. The three sessions that impacted me most were “Within and Beyond Color: Religious Identity in Independent Schools,” “Touching the Untouchable: Unpacking Race and Class in Our Independent Schools,” and “The Marginalization of the African-American Male Student-Athlete.” In the session about religious identity we talked about defining respect and concluded it is more powerful when you have your students define it, rather than just tell them to respect others. I know this is something I will begin to do at the start of each year. Most important, a school should embrace and encourage, not ignore, the various religious beliefs the community has to offer. In the second session, we were encouraged to lean into discomfort and accept conflict as a catalyst for change. We were partnered with strangers and told to discuss our personal social class background, which included race and socio-economic status. I was surprised that people who came from a more privileged background were less willing to share and felt very uncomfortable doing so. After this activity we discussed how trust must be established on a campus before true diversity work can be done and most diversity training does not last because individuals feel uncomfortable discussing these topics, especially when it comes to their personal background.
The session that affected me most as an educator was the session on African-American male athletes. In my opinion, it could apply to all student athletes of color. This session made me realize how much pressure is put on these students to perform both in athletics and the classroom. It also shed light on the kind of ridicule some students had to experience from their friends and home communities who perceive them as “sell-outs.” At the end of the session, I left feeling badly for our students who are put in these predicaments and determined to do a better job in the future of helping them cope with all this stress.
Also, during the conference I had the opportunity to meet with my affinity group (the multi-racial group) three times. It was so great to get to be in a room with other multi-racial people and to listen to and share our experiences.
My goal for the conference was to learn tools and strategies that would help me better assist students of color at Kinkaid. Those goals were met along with gaining tools that I could use in my personal life. I definitely recommend this conference for my colleagues.
Upper School History
I recently attended my fourth People of Color Conference (PoCC). This highly energetic and informative conference continues to inspire, nurture, motivate, and empower me both professionally and personally. In support of my goal to strengthen my pedagogical practice, I seized the opportunity to participate in a myriad of workshops, engage in rich dialogues with colleagues from Kinkaid and other NAIS schools, and attend thought-provoking presentations. From the conference, I gained insight into ways I can further enhance the Computer 6 curriculum; I also gained insight into ways I can provide the best support to all students. I look forward to assisting with the planning efforts for the 2012 PoCC, which will be held on Houston. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with members of the 2012 Houston PoCC Planning Committee during my participation in the 2011 conference.
Middle School Computer Teacher
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