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Are Extracurricular Activities Successful? Fieldwork Paper

Irene Alarcon Professor Cunningham Fall 2012

Fieldwork Presentation can be viewed here: Extracurricular activities are practiced after school and can certainly have several benefits for students. These extracurricular activities can also have positive effects for low income

students, students with disabilities, and students of all academic backgrounds. One of the things that I wanted to investigate at Dodge Renaissance Academy was how successful are extracurricular activities. I decided that the criteria that will answer my question would be through observations, student and coach interviews, and through videos. My goal was to observe each extracurricular activity and take notes on school involvement, teamwork, and how much fun the kids were having. I first began organizing this fieldwork project by asking my mentor what extracurricular activities were held at Dodge and who the coaches were. I was quite content that most sports were available to students. The extracurricular activities held at Dodge are boys tackle and flag football, boys and girls basketball, girls tennis, girls volleyball, and boys and girls tap. I spent more than the requested hours following the activities at Dodge Renaissance Academy, but I felt as though I benefited so much from an area that is foreign to me. In this paper, I will discuss what I noticed and learned from interviews and observations from the football team. Coach Hegwoods role at Dodge is a paraprofessional assisting the primary grades. He played football in high school and in college. This is his first year coaching and receives assistance from Coach Ceifer, Coach Johnson, and Coach Brown. Boys tackle football was the first observation I conducted. I began observing the team for thirty minutes during their after school practice for one week with permission from Coach Hegwood. I took several pictures and noticed the team has a set routine that they do which involve warms-up, drills, and scrimmage. I also attended a game on a Saturday morning at Orr High School. After my observations, I conducted a sit down interview with Coach Hegwood. I learned a lot through my questions with the coach. He informed me that football is open to fifth through eighth grade boys. There are even some fourth graders that expressed interest and are allowed to

be a part of the team. The only problem is that Chicago Public Schools does not cover any sports related injuries for students below fifth grade. Nevertheless, it is up to the discretion of the parent. There are no official tryouts because everyone has the right to participate on the team as long as they have a 2.0 grade point average and have the interest and heart to play football. Mr. Hegwood also shared that there are some students that end up leaving the team because they realize this may not be for them. Mr. Hegwood believes this may be true because he strict and demands a lot from the boys. Once they are on the team, they practice Monday through Friday for two hours from the beginning of the school year until October. The boys held a record of 5-2 and made it to the first year of the playoffs. I wondered how Mr. Hegwood felt about his first year so I asked him a few reflection questions. Mr. Hegwood shares this was a great year for him because it helped get to know the upper grade students and really wants to help them get into great high schools. One goal he had was to instill in the 8th grade boys that they were the role models of this school and must carry themselves that way at all times. Coach Hegwood states that he also works heavily on team building exercises by implementing trust and support exercises. The team views each other like family and respect each other and the school like a real family. When I observed the practices and a game, it does feel like a brotherhood. The boys tease each other all in good fun, help each other up, and cheer each other on. When asked what he hoped could be improved or changed, Mr. Hegwood shared that he hoped there would be more school involvement. This year, Dodge had a revolving door of administrators so it was hard get the support from the school. The past previous left after the first two weeks of school and he was one of the main supporters. There were no more announcements on the results of the football games and when they football games would be held. The pride the

school once had for the team was missing. Also, Coach Hegwood wishes the equipment was up to date because he was paying for a lot of expenses from his pocket. They had been using the same equipment and supplies from eight years ago. Another, issue this year was the teachers strike. It affected the team because they could not practice anymore and lost out on missed games. It was suggested that since the boys practice everyday after school for two hours, they could have probably made it farther in the playoffs. Yes, extracurricular activities are successful. I learned that the school climate has to do with a lot of the motivation of a team. I felt that there could have been more teachers present at the games to support the students. It also would have been nice to have a pep rally of some kind for the students to participate in. I even think the football should be allowed to wear their football jerseys on a Friday before the game to show more school pride. This may even interest more boys to want to join football the next year. I learned that extracurricular activities motivate students and keep them interested in things beyond the classroom. Our students need to keep busy and allowed to participate in activities that they enjoy. What I learned from this fieldwork observations and interviews from football were the same across all the extracurricular activities. If I could do this fieldwork over again, I would investigate what clubs and academic related extracurricular activities are available to our students. I would also like to know what after-school activities are available for students in primary grades. Another interesting approach I would take is to find out what tutoring and homework support is available. What happens to students that do not meet the academic requirements needed to participate in sports. Is a 2.0 GPA too low? Are sports the only things for students to participate in after school? What about drama and art and crafts? Why isnt soccer, softball, or cheerleading available for our students? What is done for our at-risk students who have behavior issues?

In addition to my wonderings, I really enjoyed this project because it pushed me to get involved with the school. Since I am teaching second grade, this project allowed me to get to know the middle and upper grade students that I would not have otherwise been able to interact with. This project helped me understand that in order for our urban students to be a community of learners, they must educate students that the importance of participating in extracurricular activities, students must value how well their academic performance is.