Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Developing a Program Advisory Committee

May 14, 2013

An Advisory Committee, or as what AYES calls, Business and Education Council does not come about in a vacuum. Ideally some one in the education sector decides they want input from the customer and asks advice of the future employers of the student who will be trained in the school. This could be a simple request or a detailed process. Hopefully we will build a symbiotic relationship that builds a win-win attitude for all stakeholders. Developing an active advisory takes time and effort on the part of the instructor and the key stakeholders at the school. I have never known of a excellent program that did not have a dynamic advisory that gives input, guidance and encouragement to the program.

Lowndes County High School Advisory for the Automotive Program

High School Advisory Meeting with former students,  business owners, service managers, technicians, school administrators, parents. interns and interested individuals.

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Nothing good comes from an advisory council that meets only to pat each other on the back and agree to meet again next time with nothing accomplished because each person and entity is focused on their own agenda, hidden or otherwise. For example a school has students ready to be hired but they have not graduated or are under 18. The advisory members say “No” our insurance prohibits us from hiring them. The school says “No” we can’t let students off campus to job shadow or interview independently at your dealership during school hours. This is Lose-Lose for everyone and yet we see advisory councils that run like this. No one is flexible or wants to think out side the box. I call this type of advisory a “Mutual Appreciation Society” and often this is the case.  Sometimes the school will hold advisory meetings and invite everyone to a large meeting of all the career fields in one place. The educators will tell the business people that attend what the educators have done and accomplished, often in “Edspeak” jargon and then proceed to tell the business people what they need to do to promote what ever the educators want to do. This has a tendency to drive the business person away because they see no benefit to their business in the meeting. In these trying times business needs to know that the program is a sustaining resource for future employees at every level of the automotive industry. Many instructors are unaware of who is at the dealership as the dealership or shop is unaware they as the taxpayer own the program. I much prefer the AYES model of the business becoming a stakeholder in the program. This requires a sharing of oversight and development that is a learning process for all involved. The first step is to build relationships and this takes time. In building my first advisory committee I went to a new dealership I had never visited. New owner and people from out of town had bought out and built a new dealership. I called and introduced my self and asked for an appointment with the owner. I arrived a few minutes early and gave my card with the school’s name on it to the receptionist. I wandered around the showroom and when the sales people found out I was not buying they ignored me. After about an hour a person came out and handed me a check for $50.00 made out to the school. I said “What’s this?” and was told that was their amount they gave to schools as they assumed I was here about the yearbook. I quickly explained and soon was handing back the check and explaining my AYES program to the owner. The owner introduced me to all the key staff and the dealership began a long and mutually beneficial relationship where we placed many students through the years. Eventually all the dealerships in that small county were on the advisory. Did the owners show up at all the meetings? No. Did some one from the dealership attend? Not always, but enough came to where I always had enough to do business. Would they have attended if all I had done was call on the phone or write a letter? No. My mentor in AYES taught me to visit and build the relationship from the top down. Then develop the relationship with the service manager and technicians. Visit one month before the meeting. Give them a copy and overview of the agenda. Give them action items to work on, Write them a week before and call a day before to remind them. Have the meeting around a lunch hour if you can. We have found this works best. Have them on a Thursday in the middle of the month also works best for me.

How about those other members you need, like parents and community members? I suggest attending the Rotary, Lions, Exchange and community clubs. Ask the membership if you can get on the program and have a Skills USA student do a very short presentation on your program. I have found this is a good way to get donations and support. Pick a parent with care, beware of hidden agenda in any one invited. Enjoy the ride!

Visit the NATEF web site www.natef.org for tips on building and maintaining your advisory. See http://www.natef.org/advisory_committee.cfm for the how to and what to do. Here are the required inputs from the advisory to meet NATEF standards

https://autoteacher.net/uploads/AdvisoryCommitteeTaskswithinNATEFSta.doc

Here is a video of an actual advisory committee lunch meeting.

http://www.schooltube.com/video/21bfb1980a694e83a98e/AYES%20B&E%20Meeting

Here is a set of interviews with advisory members, student interns, teachers

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA5AAB9BB025236BC

See for more information        https://autoteacher.net/NATEF_Certification.php

HTH,

Sonny

sonnyjreeves@hotmail.com www.autoteacher.net

Why would I want to be an Automotive Technician?

February 20, 2013

DSC02856

Picture from; http://tinyurl.com/6huzch5

A lot of people are telling young people that they should be anything but an auto technician or be in the auto industry at all.  Many private collages promote automotive careers that pay well but with huge student loans. Most students are not aware that great opportunity’s with OEMS are sometimes fully funded if they are qualified.  Sure in some areas Micky D’s pays more to start, but what will you be doing next year or the years after? ( http://autop.ro/3Kr ) and they furnish tools and such to flip burgers and teach you to ask if they want fries with that.
Many dealerships don’t know where the nearest auto training school or technical college is at, as they are so focused on sales.  Nor do the local auto teachers know who or how to to talk to the business so they can have a business and educational beneficial relationship. Somehow we need to fix this gap in communication.

Sadly our industry’s workers are getting older as we speak  and with technology exceeding the wildest predictions of the engineers that create driver less cars and exotic powered engines we need younger, smarter technicians to service the vehicles of tomorrow right now!

Many criticize the current trend to get students into the auto industry via low tech positions. Sir Ken Robinson points out the deficiency of of current educational system in this TED talk. many of his points are very relevant to a hands on approach to learning.

http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

Be sure to watch Sir Ken’s other talks to understand his focus.

Many drop outs are prime candidates for the hands on training required to “Fix things” in many areas of expertise.

Here is what started this dialogue; please do not read this blog with out reading James’ story!

Wired Mag Article on James Hamilton, who started as an auto mechanic.  http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/02/james-hamilton-amazon/

I asked James a question in this email;

Hi James, I read the wired article that said you started as an auto mechanic.

 My biggest challenge today is to get young people to consider a career as an auto technician. We have programs to start them but the student or the parent does not see the future in being a technician as rewarding. Could I have your thoughts on this?
I know your time is very valuable.
Thank you,
James replied;

“I might understand why some folks might find automotive technician less exciting than, say, fighter pilot. But when it comes to rewarding and to thinking through whether automotive technician is a rewarding role, I would say two things: 1) What is truly unrewarding is to not have a job and 2) what you learn as a mechanic can be applied and remain useful for entire lifetime. I learned an incredible amount as an automotive mechanic and I’m really happy I made that choice back when I was 17. Getting through an formal apprenticeship and becoming a licensed mechanic taught me the discipline and the focus to succeed at that role and gave me the confidence to take on others. The skills I learned at 17, I still apply today.
I see resumes all the time that have periods where the candidate was unemployed or weren’t challenging themselves and weren’t learning. It’s a mistake.” end of quote.

I know my personal journey was difficult and not of the standard of the day. I struggled with learning in traditional school after the 8th grade and dropped out after the ninth (see the blog http://semperfigeorgia.wordpress.com/for details)  trade school or Technical school/college as it is now was my salvation. Growing up on a farm and hating it was what drove me to cars and working on them, I wanted to learn to fix them so I could go somewhere I was not. The local junkyard with it’s old cars was much more exciting than hoeing a pea field all day in the hot sun. Having a car as a teenager gave me a power I could relate to.  I took the road less traveled and never looked  in the rear view mirror.

Regrets I have a few but that which is with out repair is without regard! I would rather be a happy ditch digger than an unhappy king.

Create, Share, Enjoy!

Remarkable Program, Remakable Teacher

February 2, 2013

We recently held our Georgia chapter of NACAT (http://www.nacat.org) conference and training session at Savannah Tech. (http://www.savannahtech.edu/ ) Our chapter meeting was held at Effingham Career Academy, (http://tinyurl.com/3ndcqs8) where Keith Cornell is the AYES (www.ayes.org) automotive instructor. Keith gave us a tour of his new lab and classroom, showing us many of the innovative ideas he has put in place. With one year of teaching at this new facility Keith has road tested and improved many of his designs for improving student learning in a school to work classroom and lab.

Fig #1. Keith uses single roll a round tool boxes for each task area. This one contains the special tools needed for brake service. The inventory control and ease of use by adopting this method of tool use will pay off in increased time on task for the students engaged in brake service in the lab.

Fig #2. Keith designed the tool set inventory control for all the tool sets. Color coded general tool sets for each student team. Lots of time invested to do this but the pay off is worth the effort when student learning is increased.

Fig #3. Clean and well organized lab will insure students will know how the 21st century work place is supposed to look and be kept with housekeeping skills learned here.

Fig #4. Keith modified and designed this cabinet with each class a drawer for safety glasses for each student. The importance of safety with our students can not be compromised or neglected by the instructor.

Fig #5. We did note one fire extinguisher that may have been out of date? Routine safety inspections by the Business and Education Advisory Committee will insure compliance with all Federal, State and local safety regulations.

Fig #6. Cover over emergency power cut prevents accidental interruption of service.

Fig#7 The lab at Effingham Career Academy is bright, clean and well organized. The students learn work ethics as they operate the shop to reflect the best example of the modern dealership and service center.

Fig #8. The lab is well planned so that everything has a place and a place for everything. When things are organized from the start then students will learn the habits that employers will want.

Here is link to video of Keith sharing his stadium seating classroom with the Georgia Auto Teachers.

As I toured the lab and classroom of this remarkable automotive program I was impressed with many of the innovative and creative ideas put into practice of the learning environment. I did not see anything that could not be replicated or adopted by anyone’s program. Even in programs with no or low budget some of the ideas would use existing items to create or replicate the idea. I visit a lot of schools around the US and meet a lot of teachers. I visit schools that have limited resources, disadvantaged students and students with more problems than I will mention today. The defining truth is this; The teacher makes the difference in the learning environment. Several years ago I attended a conference when I first started teaching and the presenter had this handout. I can not recall him today or I would give credit to that presenter.

He told stories and spoke of teachers he knew and students he had taught. He made a lasting impression on me and my teaching. I will share a copy of the handout he gave us.

Characteristics of remarkable Teachers

  • They are lifelong learners
  • They seek excellence
  • They have gifts to share
  • They are encouragers
  • They are called out to teach
  • They are positive people

 

  • They are life changers

  • They love their craft

  • They see the gifts of others

  • They mix stories and humor to connect

  • They champion their students

  • They teach from the heart and the mind

 

Create! Share! Enjoy!

TEFGA is All About Student Success in Transportation Careers

February 1, 2013

Transportation Education Foundation of Georgia organizes the Career Expo for the Georgia State SkillsUSA Conference to be held March 21, 22 @ the Georgia International Convention Center. This is one of our best kept secrets in Career Education. You and your company need to be involved in this awesome gathering of career focused young people.

Here is a report from the TEFGA .org site on last year’s Expo:

The 2012 SkillsUSA Career Expo and Championships was a huge success with over 7,000 participants. TEFGA   _2013TEFGA Fact Sheet    helped to organize the largest student focused career expo in the state, in which for two exciting days students are able to explore different career opportunities within the transportation fields, network with industry representatives and discover the options available for post-secondary education. The best students from across the state competed in competitions to test their transportation knowledge. These contests ranged from Automotive Service Technology and Collision Repair to Diesel Equipment Technology to Fight Operations and Aviation Service. Other contests tested student’s knowledge of small engines and marine and motorcycle service. The results were students realizing their goals and being rewarded for their hard work, through prizes, recognition and often scholarships for additional education.

To see the top teams in the nation compete  http://www.hotroddersoftomorrow.com/ Georgia has three of the top five teams for 2012.

The Georgia SkillsUSA Conference  http://www.skillsusageorgia.org/

To volunteer to work with the expo, To have your company showcased at the expo,  To meet some of the best young people focused on technical careers contact Erin.

For more information on how you can get involved in TEFGA’s activities to build Georgia’s future workforce in the transportation industries, please contact Erin Studstill:

Visit our Facebook Page Follow us on Twitter

Email: erinstudstill@tefga.org

Click on the links for more information.

SkillsUSA_CareerExpo_Flyer

Video from 2011 Expo and Skills Conference,  http://tefga.org/Videos.htm

http://tinyurl.com/2013-SkillsUSA-CareerExpo

TEFGA Expo and Skills Sponsorship Form

2013TEFGA General Donation Form

Automotive Math

October 31, 2012

Automotive math

Instructor Don Faircloth, shares a demonstration of math problem for students in a brakes class.

More to come……

AYES, Automotive Yes! Why should I have an AYES program?

August 23, 2011

Automotive Youth Educational Systems and School to Career Opportunities.

When we go to purchase something like a automobile we look for the features and benefits. If the car does not have the features I want or require, then I may not buy the car. Here is a story tellers view of the question “Why should I have an AYES program ?”

A new dealership had opened and I wanted to meet the owner to let him know about my AYES program www.ayes.org; so I called for an appointment after school so I could stop by on my way home. The new dealership was expansive,  high tech, and geared for sales and service with all operations in one location.   The old one he had bought out was small and family owned. The new dealership was a GM franchise. I have students at another GM dealership nearby in another city. The day of the appointment I arrived fifteen minutes early, presented my card and asked the receptionist to tell Mr. Dealer I was there for our 4:30 appointment.

see https://autoteachersonny.wordpress.com/2009/11/ for this  story on Advisory Committee building.

I wandered around the showroom and when the sales people found out I was not buying they immediately ignored me. After about an hour a person came out and handed me a check for $50.00 made out to the school. I said “What’s this?” and was told that was the amount they gave to schools as they assumed I was here about the Yearbook. I quickly explained this was not my purpose, as I handed back the check and began explaining my AYES program to the owner. He, then, introduced me to all the key staff. The dealership and I began a long and mutually beneficial relationship where we placed many students through the years. Eventually all the dealerships in that small county were on the Advisory Committee. Did the owners show up at all the meetings? No. Did some one from the dealership attend? Not always, but enough came to where I always had enough to do business. Would they have attended if all I had done was call on the phone or write a letter? No.

This is one the major benefits of an AYES program. The development of a active Business and Education Advisory Committee is so much easier with the power of AYES. While NATEF accreditation validates your program, AYES gives you the relationships to open doors at the dealerships. When I first attended an AYES conference Don Gray was speaking on the value of relationships and I being new to AYES followed his plan to build relationships so that my students would benefit.  “It is all about relationships” Don Gray

I can make a call or an email to the key people at our OEM partners of AYES and have someone that knows me, has a interest in our interns and possibly help with the hiring of the intern by a reluctant dealership. The relationships we build at our conferences and meetings is priceless in today’s employment market.

We could look at the tangible features of AYES like the resources of OEM service and training. Online we have the latest service information and finest training from the partners of AYES. Our partners also open their training centers doors for AYES instructors each summer on a space available basis so that we can obtain our 40 hours of Service Training. Honda has for several years set aside a week for instructors to train at their Southeast Training Center. I used the Honda curriculum materials to train a class for one semester. I told the students they were special and this was Honda training developed for them, only this class was privileged to use the training and they respected that by applying themselves to the tasks. Now a few years later those same students that were trained as entry level “Express Service Techs” are at the same dealerships they were interned at and now enjoying gainful employment in their chosen career.

I do feel that the benefit that is worth the most is “intangible” and this benefit relates back to the development and maintenance of the Business and Industry Council. It is through those relationships we build every day as an instructor of an AYES program that our programs grow! Our students are introduced to the world of work, interviewed, job shadow and intern with their mentor at the businesses in our communities. This why we say that AYES is the premier “School to Work Career Model” in the USA.

To learn more about AYES visit http://www.ayes.org   To learn more about NATEF visit http://www.natef.org

AYES Presentation

July 16, 2011

Time Passes Will YouNACAT2011a1

Click on the link above to download the powerpoint of the presentation of “Developing the 21st Century Classroom”

The slides have links embedded for you to click on to learn more about developing your classroom.

Presented at the 2011 AYES conference in Seattle from an earlier presentation at NACAT 2010 and 2009

Constantly updated….stay in touch

Outback and in Sight, Used Oil and Safety Glasses or How many lawyers do you know?

May 1, 2011

What is my responsibility to all these rules and regulations concerning the environment? Safety?

Often on visits to schools and colleges I find some that are unsure of what the requirements are for compliance with EPA and OSHA regulations. Some even think that these federal regulations and state laws do not apply to schools. Well, I would not want to be the instructor or administrator that was responsible for a violation. In the 21st century we are all personally responsible to our society to be aware and protect the environment by being good stewards of our world. When I was a youth dumping used oil and other fluids was considered OK as long as you dumped it somewhere else. Today you and your facility can be held liable for even small oil spills or negligent storage practices. All states consider used oil a hazardous waste and hold the generator of the oil liable for proper storage and disposal. To become a known polluter would be foolish in today’s litigation prone world. Oil storage that is open to rainfall is apt to leak in to the ground water. Oil and fluids stored out in open are hazards to spills however accidental and that makes the person who authorized or was in charge of the materials responsible for their proper storage and safe conduct to the recycle center. I feel the old rule of “CYOA” applies in making sure my shop/lab is in compliance. It is very simple to comply with the regulations. All hazardous materials: used oil, trans fluid, brake fluid, paints, solvents, coolant, batteries and used parts should have a visible closed loop back to a recycling facility or supplier. Nothing from your shop/lab should go to the landfill. Have a spill containment platform with proper storage drums/containers for all fluids. Use a lid or covering with a funnel system that is easy for students to use in transfer of fluids.

Fig#1 This containment pallet and two drums is an inexpensive solution. This needs to be underneath a shed or overhang where rainwater will not collect on drum tops of course. Also, used lead acid batteries may be stored here  until routine collection to a recycle center.

Fig #2, A commercial set for spill and storage containment. www.newpig.com Even this set up would need protective lids and cover from rainfall, high winds and impact damage.

Protecting the individual student

Personal Protective Equipment is required for all persons in contact with hazardous material. This means you and your students, Reference Ga. Code O.C.G.A. § 45-22-2 (all states have similar statements) This means compliance with right to know and MSDS requirements being followed with a documented safety and HazMat training. I will recommend a certificate program like www.sp2.org that will give certification and validate your training of student/employees. This will also cover you in the event of an accident in your lab.

I will never understand the “Push Back” I get from teachers in auto labs that don’t require students to wear safety glasses. Many times I visit otherwise good programs to find students in the lab working without safety glasses. I recently visited a lab and students were grinding metal with air grinders and no PPE or glasses were in use. When asked the instructor replied he had gave up trying to make them wear them. Another teacher said he never wore them at work and did not see the need to make kids wear them. I visited two labs a few years ago with the director and when we observed students working in the lab without safety glasses and I stated the requirement for safety glasses the instructor and the administrator asked me where that rule was as if it were not a common sense practice to protect students from eye injury.

I have a video (Safety Glasses)of students holding a brake clip that had cracked the student’s safety glasses when the clip broke while he was working on the brakes. That is why we call them accidents.

See Georgia School Board Rule (All states have similar rules);

160-4-3-.10

Code : JGF 160-4-3- .10 EYE PROTECTION . (1) REQUIREMENTS . (a) Each local board of education shall adopt a policy for ensuring the safety of every student, teacher and visitor participating in or observing certain courses of instruction in any school . (b) Such policy shall require that persons wear appropriate industrial-quality eye protection equipment at…
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/…legalservices/160-4-3-.10.pdf

NATEF requires this as a Go-No-Go for accreditation of the program.As always NATEF is the final authority on their standards. Please check with http://www.natef.org for latest updates.

OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.132

I will refer you to documents and resources on this page;

https://autoteacher.net/NATEF__Teacher_Helps.html

This is the assumption of the learning environment that NATEF places on Accredited Programs;

http://www.natef.org/documents/auto_standards_2008.pdf

Quote;

12. The concern for safety is paramount to the learning environment. Each program area has the following safety requirement preceding all related tasks:

Comply with personal and environmental safety practices associated with clothing; eye protection; hand tools; power equipment; proper ventilation; and the handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals/materials in accordance with local, state, and federal safety and environmental regulations.

Page 8 “ reference NATEF standards http://www.natef.org

A quick google brings up more information. Here is the summary.

Hazardous Material Storage, includes waste oil, transmission fluid, anti freeze and other automotive fluids. Federal Regulations;

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=41e1500fdf914c7c862ab38890889e35&rgn=div5&view=text&node=40:26.0.1.1.9&idno=40#40:26.0.1.1.9.3.47.3

PUBLIC LAW 96-463 defines used oil as a hazard to human health.

O.C.G.A. § 12-8-62  (2011) quotes the above law in defining the handling of used oil. All States have similar laws and rules.

All public officials are required to know the laws affecting the workplace they are responsible for. O.C.G.A. § 45-22-2

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=41e1500fdf914c7c862ab38890889e35&rgn=div5&view=text&node=40:26.0.1.1.9&idno=40#40:26.0.1.1.9.3.47.3

EPA Document; http://www.epa.gov/owow/NPS/ordinance/

Ga Governmental Document http://www.gaepd.org/Files_PDF/techguide/wpb/noiguidance.pdf

Fig # 3 a student with an oil saver he made for use in lab. The drop or two of oil in the bottles is collected in the bucket for recycling in stead of the trash. The plastic bottles are recycled also.

A Resource;

http://www.newpig.com/us/

This company will be pleased to explain the rules, law and regulations that apply to you and your facility. They are qualified experts that can advise on products and their use. I find them easy to work with in understanding EPA and OSHA as it pertains to schools.

If I can be of service to you or your teachers with training, information please let me know. In all these safety issues I would rather be over than under when in comes to meeting the safety issues we all face in our auto labs.

Remember this “It is not about budgets, school boards or facilities but the safety of the individual student as they are in the learning environment you provide” Be aware, Be informed, Be safe!

Sonny Reeves www.autoteacher.net sonnyjreeves@hotmail.com

The New Auto Teacher

February 16, 2010

Autoteacher News for February 2010

Recent question from a new auto teacher prompted me to write this one. Seems a school started a new teacher into a class where he was handed little more than the keys to the room. Sadly sometimes we auto teachers get very little training for education. Many times we are not assigned a mentor. A lot of assume and maybe a little help with paper work from next door teachers during a rushed planning period. Here is what I wrote.

Welcome to the world of teaching. Relax; I must say that you are doing a lot of things at one time.  I will suggest a few things to do if you are not already doing them. Get on IATN educators forum, Join NACAT, and your state teacher’s organization that offers liability insurance.
http://members.iatn.net// http://www.nacat.org/

Visit my web site http://www.autoteacher.net and take anything there for your own use. Teach the basics; don’t worry about the wiz bang new stuff. Teach the science, physics and math of the automobile. Teach what you know and learn as you go. In all things teach safety. Cover the simple stuff that we all should know. Tools, fasteners and shop procedures. I have never had a student that knew the proper way to mop the floor.
Set a timeline for your teaching, a lesson plan for the week. Don’t let it be the rule, but rather a short term goal to follow. Do electrical, then something else for a week, don’t try and force too much on them at a time. Ohm’s law learned to the point that a volt drop is understood is way better than filling the hours with lecture and redundant theory. Write the physics/science principle on the board each day and require them to know that it will never change, even if everything we know about cars will change very soon. Teach them to work smart not hard. Make them work, and you have fun! Read Harry Wong’s book “The first day of school” if you have not done so already. Require the students to learn the concept before you move on. Don’t worry with the 20% that don’t want to learn. Focus on the motivated few and teach to them. If you teach to the ones that are interested then you will be happier at the end of the day. Use stories, metaphors and relate everything back to something you can allow them to see and touch.

Establish a set of procedures; require everyone to follow the rules. Procedures and way you want things done should be constant and enforceable. Be fair and firm. Be their leader, not their buddy. Keep your integrity at the highest level. Set the best example you can for you will be the person some will model for good or bad.

You are in charge; no one else can be there in your classroom/lab. Use the lab/shop time as a reward for hard work in class. Give them so much relevant work to do that they are never done and your discipline issues will go away.

One day you will find that you are no longer a technician that teaches but you have become a teacher of technicians.

Read my blog when you have time

https://autoteachersonny.wordpress.com/

Enjoy the day; you are making a difference very few can claim.

sonnyjreeves@hotmail.com

You teach, Who Learns? or Learns how to learn

October 2, 2009

Learning to Learn or How do you teach?  October Auto Teacher News

Many years ago in a 9th grade algebra classroom I sat bewildered by all the new concepts and theories being presented. I did not get it! The teacher was unconcerned by my lack of understanding. All she did was read romance novels and keep the class quite. Large stacks of “Ditto” sheets and a textbook were the mainstream of her teaching. When I said I did not understand the problems I was told to read the book. When another student tried to help me I was disciplined for talking in class. After almost all “A” report cards my grades started to slip. Behavior issues began, rather than be considered dumb I would be known for my misbehavior. Soon the math class for me was to sit in the back of the room with my desk facing the wall, bored and forgotten. No one ever impressed upon me the need for my knowing the subject.

Who knows the difference a concerned math teacher could have made in the course of my life. I know the lack of an understanding of math has held me back in some cases. My love of the science of electricity has been limited by my ignorance of the higher math required for a degree in Electrical Engineering. I am sure if I had dedicated math teachers like Ms. Jones or Ms. Sirmans who teach with me at Hutchings my life would have been different and possibly easier.  As it was I have had to adapt and work harder to overcome my shortcomings in math. I can see myself in many of my students. They are bored, discipline problems abound, and because only few teachers are dedicated enough to get through to them they will drop out or otherwise not reach their full potential.

How do you teach? Do you expound on the facts of our high tech world and seek to teach every new thing under the Sun/Hood of our high tech world and the new cars? Or do you seek to instill what Jorge Menchu calls “Learning to Learn” and prepare your students to think, learn and create their own high tech world of “Knowing” instead of just memorizing the fact so as to repeat it for a test.  I know that you want the best for your students and you truly want to be the best teacher you can be. Here are some observations for you. When I was around eight years old I was a very good whistler, in fact I was the best there was among my eight year old peers. I had the summer off and my dog and I set out to do what all boys and their dog will do during a summer of fun. I wanted to do something for my dog. Now all boys love their dog when they are eight. I wanted the best for my dog. I wanted to teach my dog to whistle! I proceeded to teach and my dog listened with a wagging tail and open expression on his doggy face. I taught my heart out to an attentive pupil. At the end of the summer my dog could whistle no better than he could at the beginning. In fact he never could or would. No one impressed the dog with the reason he needed to whistle. There was no relevance or rigor in my teaching all we had was a relationship.

I now know better than to try and teach at my level to a student’s level with out an adjustment for learning styles and prior knowledge that the student has. A grave disservice is that many students I have today have not had physical science since sixth grade.  In order to teach electrical or hydraulics I have to back up and teach basics of science and physics. Now in my class the student finally has a relevant course that gives a tangible reason of how electricity is used to operate a relay that causes a fuel pump to pump fuel to run the engine. When I explain a modern automobile I teach, that the vehicle we use and service today, is basically the same as the 1960’s model our fathers and grandfathers knew except the manufactures have added an average of $27000.00 worth of safety, emissions controls and accessories we must have. The Chevy I bought new in 1969 was $2895.00 today the same basic car is $30,000.00. Now this essay is not to argue the merits, prices or attributes a of a car line. I would like to propose that the car of today is still operating off the same basic physics, science and math principles of the first car ever built. The Wow! and Whiz Bang of the High Tech vehicles we are seeing pop up like mushrooms after a summer rain are nothing more than $27000.00 worth of safety, emissions and accessories added to our 1969 car’s basic fundamental principals of physics, science and math.

Here are my hard questions. Why are our programs looked upon as a savior for students that did not do well in middle grades science and math classes?  Why are we expected to teach our physics, science and math to students that either failed or made Cs and Ds in those subjects?  Why are our hands on classes looked upon as inferior to academic classes by state school boards when good techs in all trades are making economic progress in these hard times and college grads can’t find jobs?

What’s up with this? Do you teach to the test or for life long learning? Do you teach the basics? Do you create a hunger for learning in your student?

Hope this Helps,

Sonnyjreeves@hotmail.com