Growing up, my family had a motto, “If you’re not early, you’re late.” Regardless of what we were doing, we always arrived at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the event. I always assumed that being early allowed the opportunity to solve any problems that arose. Be proactive rather than reactive. If I left for a road trip early and got a flat tire on the way, I would have plenty of time to fix it and still manage to arrive at my destination on time. It made sense to me. Be prepared for anything and everything. I still live my life this way. I’m all about being prepared and ready for any situation. If my family goes on a vacation, my wife and I have it planned out months in advance to allow for the best deals and to be sure we have everything in order. This leaves plenty of time for problems to be solved, shopping to happen, supplies to be gotten, contingency plans to be made, and fun to be prepared.
As a teacher, I have units planned weeks in advance, lesson plans completed long before due dates, and materials gathered well before they will be used. This way, if life happens and I get sick or something else pops up, I will already be prepared and able to deal with the adversity I might face. This week in my STEM class, the students began working on the Pinewood Derby Car Project in which they will design a unique pinewood car using the computer program Google Sketch-Up, write a report explaining why they designed their car the way they did focusing on the scientific principles regarding drag, friction, and aerodynamics, and then build their car in our school’s design lab. A month ago, I ordered the pinewood car kits so that I would have them all ready to go. They arrived a few days after the order was placed. Early in November, I reorganized the storage area in my classroom. In the process, I put the box of pinewood car kits in a safe place. In fact, I put the box in such a safe place that when I went to look for it earlier this week, I couldn’t find it. I looked everywhere for the box with no luck. Where did it go? Where would I have put it for safe keeping? Today, when I still couldn’t find it I started questioning myself. Did I even order the kits? I wouldn’t have lost them. I pride myself on always being prepared and careful. Where did the box go? Did someone take it? My co-teacher sent out a faculty email to see if anyone had seen it or mistakenly grabbed it. No response. I was beginning to freak out. What would we do tomorrow when the boys are supposed to start building their cars? What will we tell the students? Could I get some more before tomorrow? We were in trouble. As I was working with students, I tried to figure out what to do. It was difficult to stay focused, but I managed to keep it all together. The boys were productive and excited to start crafting their cars. How would we tell them that they can’t build tomorrow?
Then, like some strange message from above, I decided to look through the storage area one final time. I looked behind things and under things just like before when suddenly something caught my eye. It was a box I hadn’t noticed before. I investigated further and found the missing box. Yah! The boys would be able to build their pinewood cars after all. Everything was good once again. If only I hadn’t tried so hard to keep the box safe for so long, I wouldn’t have encountered the stress that plagued me this week. While the moral of story seems to be, “Early isn’t always best,” the true take-away for me is, “Tell your co-teacher when you decide to keep something safe.”