Going Back To Class…as The Teacher

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          January 14, 2017


My Great Aunt Lizzie took art classes at her local community college when she was 96. I still have one of the canvas paintings that she created- a picture of the log cabin she lived in when she was a child!

I went back to school this week, also…at the age of 62 years and 8 months! The difference is that I was the teacher in classrooms full of 7th Graders who took the huge task upon themselves of teaching the teacher.

I did not realize that “7th Grade” qualifies as a foreign language. This week I gave them an assignment that involved making a brief presentation in front of the class about who each of them is…interests, background, hobbies, etc. Most 7th Graders are wired! They are into gaming, YouTube, social media, and their friends. After each presentation I allowed the class to ask some clarifying questions about the insights the presenter had given about their life.

Questions like:

“What’s your favorite video game? What level are you on at before mentioned video game?”

    “Who are your favorite YouTubers?” 

    “Who is your favorite character in Harry Potter?

    “What’s your favorite Drake song?”

    The education came in the answers. On the chalk board at the front of the classroom I had put two headings: Don’t Know! and Know. Under each heading I had drawn lines. To begin the week I had two lines underneath the “Know” column. It was to let the students know that there was very little that I knew. Worded another way, I was pretty much clueless about this teaching thing! Under the “Don’t Know” heading I had two columns of about a dozen lines each. As the presentations took place the students noticed that once in a while I would take the two steps to the board and add another line of something new that I had just discovered that I didn’t know.

Those discovered unknowns usually were new language terms of the “Seventh-ish” language. I’m just glad I won’t be tested on it next week!

I need to go to Best Buy and browse the video game section. I’m still more familiar with “Baywatch” than I am with “Overwatch”. “Titan Fall”…ahhh, clueless! I’ve heard of Madden 17, but I haven’t played it. I’m from the generation of kids who played Electric Football, that unusual game where you lined up the players on a tabletop football field, turned the power on and watched them scatter all over the place like out-of-control ants. It was a game that was tortuous to play, and after a couple of months got crammed into the back of the closet.

I was also taught this week by this squadron of 120 students that there are a number of 7th Graders who are dealing with some deep hurts and pains. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what is and what will be. Gaming systems, music interests, and YouTube are safe topics to dwell on, as opposed to split families, parents being deployed, and depression. In that respect, 7th Graders haven’t changed. Forty years ago when I was their age I was dealing with the confusion of adolescence, the stigma of being the shortest student in my whole grade, and being the new kid in a school where just about everyone already had their set of friends. I’m thankful to this day for Terry Kopchak and Mike Bowman who saw me as the new kid who needed some friends. My education this week taught me that in a world of rapid change and new terminology some things don’t change.

The good news is that we (the 7th Grade squadron and me) journeyed together well this week. Being a retired pastor I’ve always been the shepherd, but this week I was more like the sheep with 120 guiding shepherds keeping me under control and pointed in the right direction.

Explore posts in the same categories: children, coaching, Freedom, Humor, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized, Youth

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