First weeks at LSU

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First weeks at LSU

Post by Karen on Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:37 am

Kelly and Angela: You have just moved to Baton Rouge, gotten settled, and are preparing for your first week(s) of school.
Tell us a little bit about your initial impressions of:

Your advisor
Your coursework
Your research activities
Any GA responsibilities

I realize your answers may be long, but try to address each of these separately, if you can. Give each of them a subheading, if possible.
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Re: First weeks at LSU

Post by Kelly_Simonton on Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:16 pm

My overall initial impressions of graduate school thus far are feelings of being overwhelmed. We had meetings the week before school started to let us know what our responsibilities as teacher’s assistants, as well as things we need to anticipate in our course load.

Advisor: My impressions about my advisor have been good. Dr. Garn has been there for our transition and even took extra time this summer to offer advice and check in on Angela and me when we moved to Baton Rouge. I feel that Dr. Garn did a pretty good job of giving us a head’s up on things we needed to know about the department. I also feel that he and many of the other professors may make some assumptions on us already having an idea on some aspects of school that we actually don’t. I also feel that, as students, we just have to jump in to really understand how the system works and what to expect. I hope those feelings of uncertainty and the feeling of being overwhelmed is a typical, initial response. I have a meeting with my advisor in the next couple weeks to review my educational track for the future. One thing, I didn’t expect about grad school was the freedom of classes. Dr. Garn has done a good job of getting me involved in multiple research or teaching activities to help gain experience in my discipline of pedagogy and psychological sciences. My advisor really helped with my transition and now I hope to get more guidance on my future in the program and that I reach my professional goals.

Coursework: This fall I am taking 3 courses, two kinesiology classes and one health education course. My initial impression of my two kinesiology classes are excitement and intrigue. These classes consist of thinking at a different level and tackles issues that are of interest to me. For example in my seminars in physical education professional preparation course we will be discussing how to prepare future undergraduate and graduate professionals. My goal is to one day be a professor and teaching individuals how to be a quality PE teacher, so I enjoy the readings and discussions a lot. That is the other great part about these classes, the ability to discuss our thoughts and we are all allowed to interpret the theories and positions in our own way. For the first time, besides a few undergraduate education courses in kinesiology, we aren’t cramming and regurgitating information throughout the semester. We actually get to look at what makes a good program, accreditation, planning, program design, etc. I am excited to learn the intricacies of a program, I would like to be a real contributor to the quality of a PETE program in the future or even have the ability to be the head of a department someday. Naturally, this type of work is interesting to me. We will be creating a portfolio and doing a lot of researched based readings, which also helps me gain experience dissecting different forms of preparation. Another class that I feel will prepare me for my future is my administrative problems in kinesiology course that discuss the future of on-line education and also learning how to deliver a quality on-line course in the future to undergrad and graduate level students. In this class we also get to work with the newly hired professor to help develop the new on-line master’s degree program in sports management. My health class is going to me a little more challenging. The class is made up of food science majors, nutrition majors, and dairy science majors and the course is really dedicated to understanding nutrition and its effects on health. There are a handful of students that are in pedagogy taking this class, although it’s a little out of our realm. I think we were suggested to take this class for a few reasons. One, Dr. Tuuri is working with Dr. Garn on the ambassador program that encompasses physical activity, nutrition, and counseling for student and their families who are at risk. From what Dr. Tuuri said, she really wants to incorporate areas we are interested in related to pedagogy and nutrition. I think this well be a place to learn more about what I can do as a teacher to change the nutrition for your children, also learn more about popular foods for youth and advice I can give them to change some bad habits. My final concern is the outlook of my future course work. I really think I will gain more conformability when I can understand my responsibilities and know what is coming in the future.

Research Activities: I have limited information on the first research project I’m working on due to it not starting for a few weeks. As of right now, I will be working with my advisor and another professor for so many hours a week to help a local school district. We are going to the school to teach the physical educators how to properly administer and assess FitnessGram. We are going to compare schools that receive the proper professional development versus those who don’t and try to find key differences in the students’ scores and progress. We will also be working with some administration to clear up a more reliable system to assess the teachers and how their students are progressing. There are two other small projects I may be helping with, but my GA responsibilities may prevent time to help with the other projects.

GA Responsibilities: I am required to teach three classes for the Kinesiology department. I am teaching two activity classes, both beginning golf courses. We meet three times a week for 50 minutes. I was required to write a syllabus, all written tests/quizzes and administer two practical exams. The third class I teach is more in depth and I have found, a lot more time consuming. I am teaching a lab for a course called tests and measurement; students learn the different ways to test for health related fitness components. They get familiarized with vocabulary and testing methods that can translate to their major, which are all potential health science degrees. I am required to attend the lecture for this class once a week for 1 hour and 50 minutes. I also teach the lab once a week for 1 hour 50 minutes. The students in this class are required to complete a lab write up and answer questions each week that I will grade. The other required hours will be dedicated to helping Dr. Garn and Dr. Baker on our research project and other help Dr. Baker needs with her lecture courses. Overall I am very excited about my responsibilities and future research. I can’t wait to get more in depth into my courses and I hope I can continue to challenge my teaching skills in my activity classes.

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Re: First weeks at LSU

Post by Angela_Chambers on Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:07 pm

Advisor

I have had several impressions of my advisor from when Kelly and I decided to come to LSU and now, starting the second week of school. When first speaking with Dr. Garn over the phone, he seemed really invested in my future and wanted to help in any way possible to get us to LSU. After our decision was finalized, he offered to help us find a place to live, to show us around Baton Rouge, and help in any way needed during our transition. A week or two before school started, we didn’t really hear or see a whole lot of him, and during the week before school, there were a lot of individuals in the grad program talking about thesis research. This made me anxious. Kelly and I figured we should get a start on our thesis right away, so we set up a meeting with Dr. Garn. During our meeting, he was incredibly calm. He informed us that he was allowing us to get a good feel for being a graduate assistant and taking classes at LSU, to make sure this was the correct decision for us before diving right into research. It was this response that really made me relax. I came to the realization that he is here to guide me, not hold my hand, and that he has our best interest in mind.

Coursework

Man, was I nervous to start school last week! I was not sure what to expect from the courses that I am taking this semester as far as the instructor, course load, and to an extent the content. My original perceptions of graduate professors was that they were all really strict and scary individuals, but these perceptions were based on zero experience. Come to find, they are totally awesome at LSU. All of my instructors are really enthusiastic and fun people, encouraging us to learn from our personal experiences. All three of my courses base most of the coursework on in-class discussion of research articles. This is a large change from the courses I previously took in undergrad. Each class in the grad program requires at least three articles to be read for discussion, and I have one of the classes twice a week. That is close to reading 12 articles a week, something which I am nervous about. Sometimes the articles all start to blend, so I am going to have to use a different kind of approach to really gain the most from the articles. As for the content of each of my 3 courses, I was incredibly excited at first, until I showed up to each of my classes this week. Dr. Solmon is teaching a course called Seminar in Physical Education Professional Preparation, but come to find out, she is changing it to Seminar in Professional Preparation in Kinesiology. It is not as focused to my interests as it was in the past, but courses are changing with increase in Kinesiology majors at LSU. Don’t get me wrong, it is still going to be a fantastic course with the goals that she has listed, but it’s a big change from being focused on physical education the last few years. It may be better for me, challenging me to relate from a broader perspective to my field and personal experiences. The second course I am a little worried about is a Food, Nutrition, and Health Promotion course. Our first class meeting, the instructor was discussing aspects of chemistry. Things I haven’t thought about in over three years! I am going to have to bring out some old notes to look over and comprehend materials in this course. My final course discusses administration of online courses in Kinesiology. I am going to LOVE this class! The entire time we discuss the articles read, and a lot of the information presented in the articles has to do with pedagogy strategies, my favorite.

Research Activities

I currently am not involved in any research activities. Dr. Garn has spoken of research and thesis opportunities with a new FitnessGram implementation program in a low socioeconomic school in Louisiana where they base teacher evaluation on student scores. From my understanding, Kelly is mostly going to be working with Dr. Garn on this project while I help Dr. Beasley with lectures and labs within the PETE program.

GA Responsibilities

As stated above, part of the GA responsibilities include helping Dr. Beasley with the PETE program at LSU. Next week I am doing a mock lesson for her students, and the following week I will be running them through a lecture and lab on components of a good demonstration. I am required to spend five hours a week helping Dr. Beasley. I am also teaching two beginning tennis courses and one on tests and measurements in Kinesiology. The tennis courses took a lot of time to plan for since previous syllabi graded only on knowledge and product outcomes. Dr. Beasley asked me to generate a course that expects some form of skill development. I can already tell how much I absolutely love teaching college students. They are so much fun in class, so I am looking forward to the rest of the semester. The tests and measurement course is a lot to grasp in a short period of time. I am hoping it will get easier for me to teach as the semester goes on.

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Re: First weeks at LSU

Post by KevinAndrewRRichards on Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:29 pm

Kelly and Angela

Reading about your transition to graduate school REALLY brings me back to my transition from Springfield College to Purdue! I was astonished how little guidance I was given as well as how much it seemed that people assumed that I already knew. The first couple months are stressful - and teaching your first classes can be a real challenge - but trust me when I say that it will get better and that it will be worth it. Graduate school is, in someways, a game, and one of the first things you need to learn is how to play the game. Once you get a feeling for the "rules" things will settle in for you. I am glad to hear that you seem to be building a good relationship with Dr. Garn. Unfortunately, I do not know him all that well, but from what I do know he definitely seems like the kind of person who will have your best interests in mind. I can't stress how important that element of graduate school is. You are correct in noting that he is not there to hold your hand - and he shouldn't be - but at the same time, he sounds like someone who is there to support you along the way. I think it is a good idea that you follow his guidance related to when it is time for you to begin to get involved in research. Learn about the school culture and get a feeling for your teaching and class responsibilities and he will get you involved when he thinks you are ready.

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