Saturday, June 14, 2014

Teaching Moments. . .Not Always What You Expect

For many years I worked in an elementary school as a paraprofessional; specifically in the fourth grade. During those years I worked in the classroom of probably one of  the most loved science teachers to teach there.  Mr. B was tall with long (and I mean very long, waist length) hair usually pulled back into a pony tail or long braid.  He wore worn blue jeans, lumberjack shirts and hiking boots most of the time and he often veered off course with stories; teaching moments about his experiences in the prairie, knowledge of rocks, his interest in native americans or other random bits of information that kids held on to like nuggets of gold.  Except, often those teaching moments were more for entertainment value, as it were. Many were the times I'd bury my head in my hands as he imparted kernels of wisdom like the fact that milk is produced in the sweat glands of the cow so, essentially, milk is cow's sweat.  Fodder for a 10 year old's brain. And he wouldn't leave it there, when passing out milks during milk break, he would say, "Cow sweat for you, cow sweat for you, etc."  

More enlightening, even, was the day he stopped whatever lesson he was teaching to tell the kids that if they needed to survive and there was no water available, they could drink their own urine.  Yep.  He said that -- and he'd emphasize, "But it HAS to be your own!" The classroom fell apart with "Eew, groooossss," and kids falling over each other in mock gag before one would yell, "May I have a pass for the bathroom?  I'm thirsty!" 

 So, once, when discussing water and energy, he began a lecture on dams of which the next town over had a nice one.  He said the word a few times and the kids started giggling, the way 4th graders do, about Mr. B saying "dam".  And he took off with it, "You can see it if you drive there.  Just park your car in the dam parking lot."  Titters and giggles. "You might even take a dam tour.  I think there is a dam store for souvenirs," he continued and the kids were rolling, trying to make up their own. "Hey!  Where does all that dam water go?" another kid piped in.  And it went on and on.  Such was the nature of Mr. B The thing is, I'll bet if you ask any kid in that class that year, they remember those moments.  

Last week we were in Alaska.  There is a lot of roadwork happening there right now and one of the companies doing work is called Quality Ashphalt Paving or as they are known in Alaska, QAP (pronounced KWAP). Sitting in front of a man who proudly wore an orange vest with QAP emblazoned across the back, holding a stop sign to keep traffic in one place until the QAP backhoe could move. . .we turned into 10 year olds.  Moondoggy said, "I wonder if he likes his QAP job?" and we started; delighting ourselves with the silliest of thoughts:
He works for QAP
QAP is big around here
It's a QAP job
That loader is a QAP loader
Wonder if he has a  QAP boss. . .

Mr B. left teaching 10 years ago to move west and work for something environmental but for a few moments last week he was right there is Alaska with us.  So go ahead. . . join in the fun.  Sometimes being 10 is the perfect stress reliever.  Throw some QAP my way and you might even learn something in the process.