Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Wood Shop Teachers

When I went to school, I remember walking to another school once a week for the afternoon to learn to use the wood shop.  Half way through the year we would switch to Family Studies where we learned to sew and bake.

The shop teacher was usually a fairly large burley man with a beard and very serious about his job.  He usually had dirty hands with some kind of injury to show which I am sure he did to scare you to be careful while using the machines in his shop. The family studies teacher, on the other hand, was short, tiny built, with glasses and generally a very kind women who helped out along the way.

My how times have changed!

I am currently a grade 7 and 8 science teacher.  I love teaching science and part of my job requirements are to teach students to properly use the wood shop and tools.  I am blessed to teach in a wonderful facility-- the wood shop is large and has an abundance of shop tools and space.  

Many people who have heard that this is my job give me odd looks because I think they still have the image of the shop teacher as this large man with a beard.  The odd looks usually come from people such as :
1.  LUMBER SALES PEOPLE: when I walk into the lumber store to purchase my wood for the year they always look at me and ask who it is for.  When I tell them what I do and what my students are building I get a peculiar look and then usually some comment like  "I sure would like to take shop class all over again!"  I am not sure if I should take that as a compliment.   

2.  CONCERNED FATHERS: I also find it interesting when I introduce myself to fathers of the students I teach.  Often I am given you a look of "you are teaching my son to use the band saw!?"   They usually stand there with their mouth open for a few minutes and them I try to ease them of the pain.

I have a pretty good record (;-) in the shop so far every student who has entered and walked out with all 10 fingers.  I say this because it is a major accomplishment for some of the things students have tried in that room.  I have experienced things like using a power tool like a scroll saw to cut a piece of wood the size of my pinkie, trying to change the drill press while it is still on or trying to sand a square piece of wood into a round doweling.

I am not taking credit for being the best wood shop teacher but I have managed to have every student grade 7 that I have taught in the last 8 years make a bird house (total of 960 bird houses).  Now not every bird house if one that the bird would choose to live in but it is something they made.  

The students each have their own challenges in the shop.  The first one is the fear of using these tool and the second one I come across is their inability to measure. Should the inability of the students be blamed on their miscalculations or is the issue the 30- 40 rulers that I have in my room?
I hear excuses like: "Your rulers are messed up" and "it is not me"  or " how come my wood is not long enough",  "the rulers are crooked"  I usually help these students by telling them they need to find the 'wood stretcher' to fix their problems.  It is then most interesting to watch them look around the shop for the 'wood stretcher' to fix their miscalculations.  For those of you who do not know their way around the shop there is no such thing as a wood stretcher.  I eventually tell them the truth and help them fix the problem and you can guarantee that they will be more careful next time they go to measure their wood.

Regardless of the stories I love my job and would never change it despite the crazy looks I get from  others, the shocking things students attempt too do and the amount of saw dust that I shake out of my clothes at the end of the day.

I am a shop teacher and proud of it!

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