Monday, November 16, 2009

Sleeping Well & Teaching 120 Students Each Week

These days a good nights sleep doesn't come as easy as it used to when I was a teen or even twenty-something. Don't get me wrong because I believe that I sleep pretty good considering my aging body because for the most part I eat whole grains, plenty of veggies, and I've been consistenly getting plenty of aerobic exercise since before Dr. Cooper coined the "aerobics" word about 30-something years ago. In addition to these good life practices the last piece to the puzzle of getting a good nights sleep lies in setting high expectations for my students.

As a woodshop teacher I have approximately 60 students each week pass through my woodshop and I also have another 60 students attend my Boy Scout classes in the same week where I teach anything Scout related from tying knots, survival skills, merit badge classes, woodcarving, you-name-it. And with 120 students in my classes each week I don't have time to feel bad, even when I do. My goal each day lies solely with providing each individual student with an above average educational opportunity.

In 1986 I learned first hand about setting high expectations in the classroom. I was participating in a 28 day course with a particular school to learn some new skills for which I paid a tuition of about $1,500.00. One of my instructors was only hitting on about 4 out of 6 cylinders and obviously wasn't giving his teaching opportunity a hundred percent. This was his last course with this particular school so he was on cruise control. Fortunately his younger and more vibrant co-instructor also sensed the situation and she really worked hard to be sure that all of us students got the quality high-level educational experience that we expected.

As a teacher I have often reflected back on that experience when I'm in the classroom trying to figure out how to deliver a lesson in a way that will impact young lives in a positive way. My students don't have to care if I feel bad or if I might be experiencing some emotional challenge in my own life on any certain day, although it's nice when they do offer a kind comment of concern to me. No matter what the situation I feel a strong sense of delivering the educational experience that they deserve no matter what's going on with my own life. Yes, I'm only human and once in a while I'm gonna have a bad day no matter what but reflecting back on my own experience more than 20-something years ago usually makes my day a little better when I remind myself about how important each of my students are.

Yeah, any way that you look at it teaching is plain hard work and especially so when 120 students are depending on you to deliver every week. So how can all this help me to get a sound sleep every single night when it seems like I should be worrying? Good question. My answer lies solely in knowing that I did all that I could to provide my students with the rich and dynamic hands-on learning experience that they deserve... something that perhaps one day they can reflect back upon in a positive way. Today was one of those good days and after a 13 mile bicycle workout, yes... I will sleep well tonight!


  1. *whispers* Sleep well Dave..... :D


  2. Clone, Dave we must figure out how we can clone you, so more can benefit from your efforts. As a former career educator, trainer, and training developer; I couldn't agree more with the message that you have conveyed. Your students are going to benefit from your efforts. You can sleep well.....Tom H