A passion for understanding people, and a passion for understanding things, has led me to become a teacher of the trades.
In my own high school experience, in nearly every class, I thought, “I can teach better than this.” Then I would envision it. I would think, “I don’t want to be a student here, why would I want to teach here?”
In Automotive class, though, the thought pattern was reversed. “I want to be a student in here, so why not be a teacher in here?”
To pursue that reality, after high school I earned an A.S. in Industrial Maintenance, then found all trade-related work I could. I worked in a machine shop, a small engine shop, a masonry business, a plastic injection factory, on a farm, and at a fish camp in Alaska, all while pursuing a B.A. in Industrial Technology Education.
I student-taught in a CAD classroom and earned a position teaching middle and high school woods and metals at that same school, after graduating with my degree. Two years later, my principal relocated and contacted me about accepting a position at his new school, which I did. Now I teach grades 6-12 Industrial Arts and CAD.
I make my own experiences tools to use to help grow student experiences. If I’ve experienced growth from working for a concrete company pouring driveways, and the opportunity comes up, we pour a concrete driveway. I tell stories as the experience unfolds. I use anecdotal evidence from my own ambitions to describe design flaws I’ve made building furniture, or mistakes I’ve made repairing vehicles.
I share my successes and my failures. I am humble and am willing to take on a new experience (wood turning for example) right in front of the students, to model strategies, as well as the struggles and successes, of facing a new challenge, then give students the opportunity to make their own.
I actively pursue opportunities that help me provide fresh content for my students. I’m working in a factory and taking notes on the manufacturing industry. I’m working with a local builder, and taking relevant side-jobs. On some of these jobs, I get to hire and work with students to bring even more real-world experience to their educations.
Students are our lifeline in the not-so-distant future. I teach hoping that the experiences I offer will help to create a world I can count on.
*This tidbit was written as a response to a question on the 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. The question was:
A. Tell us about yourself (or, if you’re a team, yourselves). How long have you been teaching the skilled trades? What level of knowledge and skill do you yourself possess (via credentials, industry experience, etc.)—and how do you make these come alive for your students in the classroom?
For more information: https://hftforschoolsprize.org/