Teacher Reports on Professional Development
I had an incredible experience at the US Lacrosse National Convention in Philadelphia. The convention is the ultimate resource for coaches at all levels of lacrosse to hear new ideas, concepts, philosophies, drills, and rules from experienced coaches and players from all levels of the game. I return from the convention excited to use these new tools for the benefit and growth of the Kinkaid girls’ lacrosse program in practices, camps and games. One of the most important presentations I attended was the rules interpretation, where the national USL rules committee previewed, demonstrated and explained all of the new rules for 2012 season. My favorite sessions included a presentation from the Johns Hopkins women’s lacrosse coaching staff of tips, drills and tricks to improve individual attacking skills; the live demonstrations from the U-19 women’s national team and former Team USA members; and a session integrating a new player up/player down defensive situation I intend to use this spring with my varsity team. As a coaching staff that is two-thirds part-time employees, it was beneficial to have all of the varsity coaches present to discuss rules, drills, concepts and strategies for the season.
Head Girls’ Lacrosse Coach
The US Lacrosse Convention was a great experience. The convention was action packed, with a number of sessions that ranged through all aspects of the game. I started my weekend at the Coaching Education Program. This session was exceptional; coaches who played high-level lacrosse took us through basic drills that we should be doing with our athletes and gave key words to use in training sessions. After the clinic I went to sessions by Bonnie Rosen of Temple and Kelly Amonte-Hiller of Northwestern where they explained great drills to use with players. Herm Edwards was the keynote speaker of the event and did a talk on integrity and respecting “your name.” The following day was filled with more great sessions, one where the Women’s U19 National team showed off some impressive lacrosse. The convention ended with women’s keynote Janine Tucker, who was so interesting and so easy to relate to. She did a great job showing drills and really opened up her thoughts for the rest of us. Overall the trip was a success for me.
Physical Education and Athletics
I attended the Bureau of Education & Research seminar on new young adult literature. I came home with a wealth of materials and ideas to wade through, then share with the appropriate teachers and librarians. The materials include bibliographies of newly published fiction and nonfiction books, bundled to appeal to specific groups of readers, such as struggling readers, techie teens, multicultural and contemporary teen issues, etc., plus websites and many instructional strategies and techniques.
Middle School Assistant Librarian
I attended a one-day Love and Logic seminar in Stafford, Texas. Love and Logic is a method of working with students that promotes healthy teacher/student relationships and guides children to own and solve their own problems in the classroom. Because I have begun using the method in my classrooms, it was great to delve further into it with the co-founder, Jim Fay, who led the seminar.
Some of the topics covered were helping underachieving students, preventing power struggles, handing problems back to students, and setting enforceable limits. The day was inspiring, informative, uplifting, and filled with laughter.
Middle School Music
I attended the Fifth Annual Environmental Education Summit at the University of Houston-Downtown. It included talks by Susan Kaderka of the National Wildlife Federation and Gavin Dillingham, HISD Energy Manager. The keynote address was by Jaime Gonzalez of the Katy Prairie Conservatory, who is working toward developing youth programs to help save the prairies nationwide. I attended several sessions relating to Project Wild, Aquatic Wild, and Growing Up Wild, which covered a wide sampler on appreciation of wildlife and natural systems, K-12. There were not as many materials provided as in the past due to cuts of government subsidies, but I did get several ideas I can use in the classroom. Overall, time well spent.
Lower School Science Teacher
The first speaker at the National Sports Softball Clinic in Nashville was Carol Bruggeman, head coach at Louisville. A great speaker, she spoke about practice plans—when to teach what. I have already used some of her ideas. In another session Bruggeman spoke about infield techniques.
The head coach at UNC spoke about outfield defense and drills in three different sessions. I have used some of her drills in pre-season.
Kyla Holas, head coach at the University of Houston, spoke about pitching. Rather than talk about pitching technique, she talked about pitch counts, game situations, and creating competitive opportunities for pitchers in practice.
The hitting coach at the University of Georgia spoke in three different sessions. I was eager to hear him because Georgia hitters are some of the best in the country. His technique is very baseball. I learned a lot but some of the ideas and techniques are not best for my hitters. He showed us the flip camera he uses at practice to film hitters, and I will definitely use that.
All in all it was a lot of information packed in to two days. I did not leave the hotel from 11:30 AM Friday to 4:00 PM Saturday, but it was a very good clinic. It reinforced to me that I am doing a pretty good job, but I could do so much more, which is what clinics are supposed to do. It got the juices flowing. I was able to give our middle school coach some effective ideas for middle school and use a lot for my team.
Head Varsity Softball Coach
The Gulf Coast Coaching Clinic was disappointing this year. There were several disappointing sessions, but Patti Gasso, the head coach at Oklahoma, was great. She showed clips from her own practice to demonstrate drills and different defensive situations. She was by far the best speaker. I have already used some of her drills and ideas in pre-season practice.
So…I have decided to do my own coaching clinic. I want to coach the coaches, from church league dads to middle school coaches. They need to know how to teach proper hitting technique, how to run an effective practice and how to make softball fun enough to keep kids playing the sport.
Two of our other coaches and I will conduct this clinic at Kinkaid in February. I will let you know how it goes!
Head Varsity Softball Coach
I attended part of the Gulf Coast Softball Coaches Clinic. It has been a while since I have attended a coaching clinic, and with my decision to help coach middle school softball this was a very good opportunity for me.
We first heard from a local softball coach from the Woodlands, Richard Jorgensen, about his 5A championship. He took us through the drills, game play and team building activities he does. I really admired how he took the time to work on building relationships with his girls and stressing the importance of teamwork on and off the field. We then had the absolute pleasure of hearing from Patty Gasso, the head coach at the University of Oklahoma. She was amazing! She showed us video footage of practice drills and games to talk us through what she thought worked best. What I thought was most valuable was Coach Gasso sharing personal stories about how her girls become her family. She wants girls on the field that want to be on the field. She does her best to nurture and help make them make the best decisions for their future, and they respect her for this. She also said that no cell phones are allowed on the team bus in order to promote real conversations and team bonding. I thought that was an interesting idea. I was very impressed and grateful for the opportunity to attend.
Upper School History
Middle School Softball Coach
One of the best things about the DFW National Track & Field Clinic was the fact that so many of the sessions were learn-by-doing. We often tell athletes what to do without experiencing the new drill or skill ourselves. Going through all the drills allowed me to feel and then better articulate how to describe the drill and how it should feel when being performed correctly. Learning by doing also gives one a big dose of humility and reminds coaches many of the skills we are asking the athletes to perform are difficult and take time to master.
Jeremy Fischer from the Olympic training center in Chula Vista taught the biomechanics of the horizontal jumps. He reiterated the importance of body position and setting up the biomechanics correctly through a good approach. We learned about angles of take-off, the importance of the penultimate step, and the proper foot plant for take-off. I learned long jump and high jump athletes can perform 100 penultimate steps in practice because it can be done with a short approach at slower speed, not causing injury.
The throws coach was from UCLA, and he gave us several excellent You Tube sites to help the athletes see the correct form and learn every drill. He was an excellent speaker who taught us the importance of teaching progressions in the throws. He kept everything simple, offered a plethora of drills, and taught about the importance of immediate feedback for athletes.
Finally, the two presentations by Tom Tellez, one on the biomechanics of running and the second on the skill development on blocks were useful, full of drills and cues, and based on the physics of movement. Coach Tellez taught the importance of the acceleration phase in the 100 meter dash, giving the example of Carl Lewis accelerating longer then his competitors, allowing him to sustain a faster speed through the finish line. We watched a lot of film of world-class athletes and then of little children seeing that correct running form is more often than not natural running form. We can sometimes over-coach. The learn-by-doing block session was a good review of the biomechanics of the sprint start.
Overall, this was a very useful coaching clinic that allowed me to get geared up for track this spring.
Head Varsity Girls Track and Field Coach
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