The Hardest Kind of Teacher – #WiseWordsWednesday

The Hardest Kind of Teacher

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever heard smoke alarms go off in vacation condos?

If you’ve ever heard a vacation condo smoke alarm, you know it is a very displeasing sound, as alarms should be.

For two years in a row now I have had the displeasure of hearing the exact same vacation condo smoke alarm blaring for all the world to hear. It wouldn’t be so bad except that when the smoke alarm goes off in our condo unit it goes off in all four of the condo units. 

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What lesson does this experience teach us?”

Well, there are a few simple life lesson reminders ringing in these alarms.

1. If you ring the alarm too many times, people will ignore your cries for help. It goes along with the proverbial, “Don’t cry wolf.” Our alarm went off so many times last summer that all of the men hanging out telling fish stories on the deck totally ignored the blaring beeps because they didn’t think there was a problem, when in fact, there was a pot boiling over inside as I attending to a bike cycle accident booboo outside.

During our most recent vacation, I set the alarm off repeatedly trying to make a breakfast casserole, no one came running to our aid because they believed there was no fire. They were right; there was no fire, but what if there had been?

The experience lesson here is: If you know an alarm is faulty be prepared to not have anyone come to your aid.

2. The alarms in the other condo units are just as touchy as the one in our room. Unfortunately, this does not stop my panic reaction when I hear the smoke alarm sound. I am always ready to jump up and rescue whomever is in danger. This is stressful because I haven’t had to rescue anyone but went through the adrenaline and fear of needing to save someone with each and every siren sound.

This life lesson is very similar to #1: If you know someone else has a faulty alarm, be weary of always rushing to their aid. It may not always be a fire you can put out or even need to attempt to squelch. It may just be another hot mess looking for someone to rescue them from their insecurities or poor choices.

Let the lessons of touchy fire alarms and emotional appeals allow us to make positive choices as we determine how we use our energy. Don’t go pushing that panic button if panic isn’t needed and you don’t have to suit up and charge in every time someone signals for help. Make the most of your intents and use your energy in real emergencies.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Always know where the emergency exits are. Just in case…

 

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

Sue Gelven, will you have lunch with me? – Sincerely, Intentergy

Dear Sue,

15 years ago I began teaching at Linn High School, and so frequently was my teaching style compared to yours, that I was scared to tell others what I was doing in the classroom for fear of failing the very high expectations set by your example.

Sue Gelven 1

Sue just hanging out in Egypt.

As time has gone by, I have had the honor of not only getting to meet you but to teach some of your grandchildren and to enjoy the stories of your travels via your fabulous Facebook posts. I have watched you bounce back from the loss of your amazing husband and become a Renaissance woman with your hunting and handy-woman skills. (You use a chain saw!)

 

Sue, I would love to have a lunch with you because I believe you have some seriously powerful messages to share.

What is it that inspires you to choose the destinations of your trips? What do you remember or miss most from teaching? What lesson did you hope ALL of your students would learn from your classes? What do you hope to teach those you encounter today? Where do you get the ammunition for all the rodents you exterminate? What is your next handy-woman project?Have you written a book? Are you going to write a book? Coffee or tea?

These are just a few of the things I would love to speak about with you. My goal with Intentergy is to bring positive purpose to the day, and I know you will be a wonderful resource for me to tap into and charge some ideas for inspiration and ingenuity.

So, it is with extreme trepidation and excitement that I ask, Sue Gelven, will you please have lunch with me?

Sincerely,

Melanie A. Peters

Sue Gelven 3

Lara and Sue

P.S. Sue’s beautiful daughter (and my friend) Lara graciously let me use her photos for this post. Thank you, Lara!

 

 

What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment

Rocking Chair 001

My sister and I in our rocking chairs. Circa 1982

What would your things say about you?

The narrative assignment for my COM 101 class is not an easy essay. And I LOVE it! It is my favorite assignment to give and to grade.

In this assignment students are to compose a narrative of their life story as told by one object from their life. They are to personify one thing, and, from the perspective of that stuffed animal, tree, table, or whatever item they choose, the students are to share their defining moments from birth to present day.

This is a daunting task for students because some don’t have any one item that has been present for their entire life. Some claim that they haven’t done anything worth remembering. And still others whine that they can’t even remember what they had for breakfast, how are they supposed to remember what they did in grade school?

My response: It’s your story to tell. You better do the research. Your stuffed animal isn’t going to do it for you.

Rocking Chair

My childhood rocking chair today

To help them get started, I share a roughly drafted intro to my life, as told by my childhood rocking chair. I give them a glimpse into what my life was like in the beginning and how to narrate using an item that arrived after my birth. Many find the example helpful.  Some try to copy my words and plagiarize by changing the item and dates. Whatever their approach might be, they all have the same task: Tell their own story while bringing to life a special object.

Have you ever tried to tell your story?

At 19, 39, or 89 it is not an easy task. I have to say, the particular group of students I have now moved me with the tales they told. The stories of self-discovery, loss of loved ones, and the ways they conveyed hope for the future exposed me to raw talent, emotion, and understanding for who they are as individuals.  Continue reading “What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment”

Ultimate Advice to Give???

advice

As the school year races our way, planning for new student orientations are revving up. By some lucky star I have been selected to speak at the Power Up for new students at my college in August. The theme is the “Ultimate Guide to Success.” (Not sure how I feel about being ‘ultimate’ yet, but I am going to try.) 

After I received the email inviting me to give the speech, I lay awake in bed hoping some earth-shattering ideas would come to me for the presentation. The one thing I fear most is to give a “typical” start-of-the-year speech. Instead of flashes of inspiration my 7 year-old appeared. Apparently, he couldn’t sleep either. So I asked him what I should say to help students start the year. (Why would’t we ask a 7 year-old?)

He gave it some serious thought and said,
“Tell them to do their best and forget the rest.” (Thank you, Paw Patrol.)

Then he went on to say, “Tell them to ask questions.” 

Wait a second.

That was pretty good advice. Isn’t asking questions the scariest part of learning?

Third, my budding genius said, “Tell them it’s okay to fail.”  Continue reading “Ultimate Advice to Give???”

Student or Teacher???

Student or Teacher

As the regular school year has come to a close I find myself sitting here reflecting on the school year and my career as an agricultural educator.  Throughout my 11 years as an educator, there have been many of lessons learned.  Some have been more easily learned than others and some have hit me like a eighteen wheeler running down the interstate.

Though not a new lesson to many of us, but probably one of the most important lessons, is the importance of building relationships.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to not only build positive relationships with myWade 1 students in the classroom but also through the FFA organization. I find many of my week nights, if not working with FFA career development events, following my students and their athletic teams.  Through my attendance at these activities I don’t only develop positive student relationships but develop relationships with their families also.What some overlook is that those relationships can often make or break many of our students and us as educators too.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest kids in the world.  Though there is a couple of experiences that stick out the most. One of those this spring a group of student and I traveled the state every weekend from mid February through the end of March traveling from one FFA contest to another.  Over 1,000 miles spent in a van, you get to know each other pretty well. They definitely expanded my knowledge of popular teen music, as the first stop we ever made was to buy an aux cord. During one of our practices one student’s statement really made me realize the importance of positive relationship building.  This student told me I was the closest thing to a dad she had ever had. She appreciated that I cared about every aspect of her life, just not the academics.  The role we take as teachers is continually evolving.  To some students we do become that parental role for others it may be a different. Continue reading “Student or Teacher???”