9/13/12

Equipment meeting


    I sat down with the LAUSD equipment procurer and the district's equipment vendor yesterday. It was certainly an eye opener. I was previously given a copy of the equipment supplier's idea of the "weight room" and I didn't care for it. It was based on the lowest common denominator, not for cost but for fitness. It had loads of selectorized machines that are designed to fit everyone but never really fit anyone. The idea was to make it  “easy” to have a PE class in there. To say that is insulting would be an understatement. I work very hard to create a rigorous and challenging physical education class that will benefit my students for years to come. I don’t need to have high school kids sitting on an abductor or adductor machine. Instead they can first learn to squat without weight. Learning how to send their hips back, drive their knees out keep their chests up and maintain their weight in their heels. Guess what? You will develop those adductors and adductors better by squatting correctly than trying to those machines. Machines go against everything I believe in as far as strength and conditioning go. You need to be able to move your body through space and develop a kinesthetic awareness. That doesn’t happen sitting in a chair/ “fitness equipment.”
    It was also suggested that if I was out of school for an extended period of time or I left the school a substitute or a regular PE teachers there wouldn’t know how to teach using the free weights. A backhanded compliment for sure but a pitiful comment on the state of physical education. I wouldn’t allow a general substitute to cover a PE in a globo style weight room either, talk about a liability! If a certificated PE teacher is unwilling to educate themselves on the safe and effective use of free-weights then they shouldn’t be teaching it. I wouldn’t teach the uneven bars to a PE class but I would never discourage a teacher from acquiring the apparatus if they knew how to safely teach it. That being said, with my setup there is still plenty that an educator could do in the space with only bodyweight/gymnastic movements while the other didn’t offer any of that space.
    It was certainly a tough conversation for me, as I had to defend my teaching philosophy against arguments by the vendor about safety and liability.  I find it difficult to stay calm when I get resistance to my vision but I managed to keep my cool.
    I believe most of the vendor’s resistance was simply because his company doesn’t supply functional fitness equipment. What a shame. Now I'm not beholden to a specific company but the one I got a quote from has everything we need, not a hodgepodge of some Globogym equipment and it was probably $20,000 below what was budgeted. In these economic times why would we not want to get more for less?
   The District’s rep seemed receptive to the school's/my desires but it is going to be a long process, I can already tell. I was fooling myself thinking that I was actually going to get to design the weight room myself without a lot of pushback despite the green light from the school’s administration. I’ll keep fighting the good fight.

9/9/12

September Update

    It has been a while since I last updated the BuffClass CrossFit site. Who knew that opening up a new school would be so chaotic? After 3 weeks we finally issued lockers to the students and got them dressed in PE clothes. The student store didn't order the school set of clothes so the got generic black shorts and grey T-shirts from wherever they please. As the week went on the percent dressed in each class increased greatly. Friday was the first day of "real" PE. Up till then classes did a lot of walking and simple exercises. A few classes will spend more time this week working on the basics, meaning getting in to roll call order and following directions. It is definitely a challenge to start a new program as a first year teacher at a school, new or old. No matter how many years you have been teaching when you are starting over you much convince your students that your way is the right way. Some periods are easier than others and some are tougher. This is my 5th time starting anew in only my 12th year of teaching PE and it is one of the most challenging. In the past I've always had large departments and systems set in place but being the one male teacher in a department of two is an experience. 
    The students are all trying to figure out how they fit in in their new school and many want to be the top dog. This has led to numerous fights during and after school. From what I understand this isn't unusual and actually common at many of the schools that have opened in LAUSD the past few years. It doesn't help that the schools are a bit understaffed.  I blame this completely on the management of LAUSD who hasn't learned from their recent history. Less than six weeks is not adequate time to open a new school.
    Coming up this week:
- A Mile run pre-test on Wednesday
- Setting the standards for Pushups
- Continued work on refining the Squat
- Introducing the Burpee

I'm excited to see the classes develop and I'm eagerly awaiting the equipment arriving so we can add in some activity time.