Posted in Education, Teaching

How Did it All Work Out So Well?

My luck sometimes seems like that of a toilet.  Just when the water gets warm enough, somebody has to come and flush it down the drain.  When my wife and I were on our “honeymoon,” which I put in quotes for effect, nothing went according to plan.  Driving north to Prince Edward Island, Canada, our car broke down two hours from our house.  It turned out that the transmission needed to be replaced.  So, we brought the car to the shop and got a rental car.  It took three weeks and $2,000 to fix our car.  Later, we found out that the mechanic we hired used faulty parts to repair our car.  The car ended up never working the same again.  We had to trade it in four months later.  Meanwhile, we canceled our trip to PEI and stayed home for the two weeks my wife had off from work.  During that time, the hose from our washer slipped off, shooting water all over the new apartment we had just moved into.  Then, my wife’s grandfather suffered a major heart attack.  Only when my wife returned to work, did things start to get better.  Lady Luck seems to steer clear of me on a regular basis.  So, when something does go right, I often question, “What’s going to happen next?”  I wish I wasn’t so pessimistic, but my past made me who I am now.  Occasionally, though, things go well just because.  I like those moments.

Luck was on my side and my students’ side today in the classroom.  In Humanities class, the students began working on the NH Wax Museum project, during which they need to research a famous person from NH and then write, memorize, and recite an original monologue about that person, based on their research.  Today in class, they randomly chose a person from the list.  I told the boys nothing about any of the people on the list and so they had very little idea who any of them were.  This made choosing someone based on their interest level almost impossible for the students.  So, we randomly selected popsicle sticks, each with one of the students’ names written on them.  The students then selected a person from the list.  While the students may have been worried about who they chose, they certainly didn’t show this during the selection process.  As they got to work, many of the boys said things like, “Hey, I got who I wanted,” or, “This guy is cool.”  Even though this entire process was random, everything seemed to work out for the best.  The students all seemed to choose a person that piqued their interest level.  How did that happen?  Was the chaos theory at work in the sixth grade classroom today?  What allowed the students to all choose the “right” person for them?

While I try to look for answers and seek to understand the cause of happenings in the classroom, today’s selection process brought about a baffling result, which pleasantly surprised me.  Maybe there is something to a name.  Perhaps the students chose their famous person based on how the name sounded to them.  For some, this might have been the case.  However, a few of our students couldn’t even properly pronounce the name of the person they selected.  So, there goes that theory.  Maybe I’ll never know what caused today’s result.  Whatever the reason, I’m happy for the boys.  I’m glad that they are now more engaged in this project due to the person they selected.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just accept life for the way it is and not try to understand the whys and hows.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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