Wednesday, November 11, 2009

good days, bad days...

Every teacher knows that good days and bad days come in balance, and some days are better than others. I could lie to you and tell you that every day in the wood shop is close to heaven, but I won't lie. Today was a challenge for me. The first grade class began making their toy wagons for westward expansion studies and that went well as you can see in the photo above. The 2nd and 3rd grade students in the afternoon class were much more of a challenge. They were to start making their toy horses and 3 of the students rebelled at the idea. Perhaps because the first grade students had finished theirs first? Who knows. They wanted to have a free day to just do things of their own creation. After this, due to the amount of prep work I invest in projects, I'll send them back to school on the bus. It is too complicated and frustrating trying to contend with occasional disinterest, and like every teacher in the world, I would prefer to give my attention to those most interested in the work.

On another note, I found that one of the older students had used a gouge to carve across the top of one of my workbenches either yesterday or the day before. I am hoping one will have courage to confess. I believe it was just an impulsive, thoughtless act rather than one intended as deliberate destruction, but to have such things happen in the wood shop where I supply tools and materials for children's use is extremely wrong and I was angry.

Tomorrow I will meet with the former dean of the University of Arkansas graduate education to discuss my possible return to school. Don't worry for me yet. I am just gathering information.


  1. I'm sure glad that another woodshop teacher sometimes experiences not such a perfect days in class. Sometimes I'm not hitting on all cylinders, for whatever reason, and sometimes the student isn't hitting on all cylinders for whatever reasons.

    Since I work for a wilderness residential alternative school I always try to start the day right and help with the flag raising ceremony before breakfast, then at breakfast I will touch base with the group who will be in my woodshop classes for that day. They will know that I'm expecting them and we might briefly discuss a particular kids project. Starting the day by doing these things bright and early each morning lets me get a barometer reading on a kid who might be a problem later in class and I can begin working with him before hand.

    Sometimes no matter what I do is going to make a difference but I'm convinced that my starting the day with an upbeat and positive few minutes of quality time with the group pays compounded dividends in the classroom.

  2. Dave, I so strongly agree. Having an opportunity to discuss your expectations ahead of time is extremely valuable. I have one student who has a "been there, done that" attitude, and because she is a leader, she can get others to follow along.

    So next week before they get on the bus for the ride to wood shop, we'll have a bit of a talk. And yes, there are days when we are not hitting on all cylinders. Parker Palmer points out the challenges of teaching in his book, The Courage to Teach, and it is just human nature, plain and simple for us to have good days and bad, but particular strategies like those you suggest, can tip the balance in your favor. Thanks!

  3. Anonymous5:00 AM

    Wouldn't it be nice if all our days at school were good ones? Or would that just make us complacent/