The First Month of School


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September 15th 2013
Published: September 15th 2013
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I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog! Life is CRAZY and a lot has happened. Every day I wake up at 5am so I can be at work around 6:20am. I usually don’t leave work till 5 or 6 at night, especially now with coaching. By the time you get home and eat something, it’s pretty much time again to head to bed! I’ve been asked to be the head coach for the Sr. Girls Volleyball team and it’s going very well. This past Friday we had our first game, although it was only an exhibition game against our rival school it was great to see how the girls react in a game-like situation. We ended up winning the match! These next two weeks are packed for us not only during the week, but also on weekends. My assistant coach is also new to the school this year - in fact, her husband teaches grade 7 here. It’s been great working with her.

The first day of school was Wednesday, August 14. It was definitely a few weeks earlier than what I’m used to and thought about everyone back home who were still in holiday mode! During the first few days of staff orientation and meeting even more people, the reaction was always the same…“I’ve heard about you!” or, “You’re the one!” Apparently it’s been a long time coming – to have a female expatriate in the PE department. There is a national female teacher who has been teaching at the school for several years now, but I am the first female expat and the community is excited about it.

We make up for the lost holidays over the year as there are several National Holidays and random days off now until June. The schedule on the first day was abnormal so all specialist courses were cancelled . I didn’t start teaching till the second day. On the first day we had other responsibilities such as running and keeping score for the in house games that went on. The whole school is divided into four teams (all teams are designated a colour and a name – the names are after major volcanoes in Indonesia). Each family is assigned a house team . I’ve been assigned to the red team. Students and teachers alike had fun and was a great way to end the first day. One thing that I am looking forward to and have appreciated about this new position is the collaboration that can happen in your department and grade level team. As a PE department our first month of classes have been mapped out for us. They start the school year off with Athletics . Across all grade levels including elementary, one class period is allotted to each athletic event . We are to introduce the event, teach it, and assess while setting our standards and expectations for the students. It becomes a little hectic, but we’re paired up so the job gets done in a timely manner. We are at the point now where Athletics is wrapping up and students are being selected for which event(s) they will participate in, in the upcoming Athletics Day at the beginning of October.

I teach PE to grades 3-10 except for grade 7. In addition, a colleague and I run the grade 1 and 2 after school basketball and soccer program. This semester it’s basketball and starting in January it’s soccer. The day ends at 12:30-1:00 for this grade level and so students will join sports or they are tutored in Math or English by their teachers.

One of the most challenging things so far is keeping track of the different schedules and learning three different systems. Since the school is a qualified International Baccalaureate (IB) School, there are three different programs under IB the school follows. Each grade level from K-12 belongs to one of these programs. Since I teach multiple grade levels, I must learn all three. I like the challenge, but it’ll take time before I’ve mastered it. A much larger challenge aside from getting familiarized with the terminology and differentiating between these three programs is simply learning students names. For some classes I only see students once a week! I made it my mission to learn at least 2 new names per class. I’m doing ok, although there are still more to learn by heart.

The way the PE program has been set up here is that for every grade level there are theory/health base classes and periods where we teach the whole grade level at once . For the periods when we see a whole grade level at once, students are divided into smaller groups based on their skill level so that we can better cater to their needs. These groups then rotate through several different activities throughout the year. For example, in grade 8, I will have the same small group of girls for the whole year. I will teach them several different sports. However, for some rotations such as dance and swimming, I have two colleagues who each specialize in these areas. For these classes, I join the students but my role is to support the teacher. This past week the first rotation started – we have first been assigned to swimming. I spent my Friday morning in the Olympic Pool swimming lengths in the sun! In contrast though, for grade 10, I have been assigned to teach badminton to them all. So for every rotation I have a different group of students for a certain number of weeks before they carry onto their next sport activity. The students are certainly exposed to a number of different sports by the time they graduate.

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