Perks of Teaching

Today I led a lesson on anaerobic cellular respiration. It involved a push-up challenge: 5 pushups, 10 pushups, and 1 minute of as many as you could do. After each challenge, participants rated their pain/tiredness level from 1-10. I participated during both Periods 7 and 8. (I did 21 pushups during the one-minute period in Period 7 and 17 during Period 8. Not too bad for someone near 40!)

The students laughed at me, and I laughed with them. 

I have an incentive system in my class that involves Terrific Tickets. Do good things and extra work and you can earn Terrific Tickets. Then you can use them to “buy” bonus points or other fun things (some of my favorites: 25 tickets for a haiku, 15 tickets for me to hold a yoga pose for one minute (my choice of pose), 100 tickets and I’ll sing them a song!). 

At the end of last week, I was a little demoralized because it was rumored someone had been counterfeiting my Terrific Tickets. I did something nice for my students by offering them a way to get bonus points, and someone had to ruin it.

Instead of stopping the program all told, I told them I’d stop using the tickets from quarter 1. I made new ones that are less easily counterfeited. And I allowed them to use their tickets on the last day of the quarter (last Friday).

Since some students had a lot of tickets because they already had good grades, those silly prizes started to look better. I had two requests for haikus and one for a yoga pose. The yoga pose will happen tomorrow. (Hey, I said I would!!)

For the haikus, I asked each student if they wanted it to be about a certain topic. One said, “Something interesting.” The other said, ” Root beer.”

Now, I should mention that students have found the blog. Every now and again one of them will try to comment on a post, sometimes asking about Terrific Tickets. Sometimes my readership counts jump, and I suspect that another set of students have been poking around in the site. I’ve made it so I can monitor comments to the blog to avoid unethical dialogue between me and students. But this is still a public page. I enjoy writing it, so I’m going to continue doing that. If they enjoy reading it, I hope they take positive things away from the posts.

I suspect the student who requested the root beer haiku has read another poem of mine. I wrote it a million years ago, in another lifetime. It’s still a damn fine poem.

I wrote my student a new one without the innuendo.

Root Beer

I adore root beer
It is my favorite soda
I drink it with cheese

Root beer is frothy
Root beer is deliciousness
Root beer tastes divinely

A&W
Barqs, Mug, IBC – All of
them taste great to me

For the “something interesting” haiku, I rolled in the simple pleasures, some school-specific references, as well as a reference to why I like my job.

Something Interesting

Tiger with no tail
Herbaceous smells in the hall
Dishonest paper

Orion above
And compressed star dust below
A few see the truth

Unfurled minds catching
a breeze – Sail toward infinity
So interesting

I like finding ways to integrate my personality and self into teaching. It was fun challenging myself while writing these haikus. Tomorrow it will be fun to challenge my ego as I put myself into plow pose (Halasana) for my students’ amusement.

There are so many challenges with teaching. There is a heavy workload just to plan a class, then the paperwork, the meetings, contacting parents, the emotional drain of students who sometimes talk over you as if you don’t exist… There are days it’s easy to lose sight of why I’m really in this. But when I really get to interact with the kids, not just as a teacher but as a human being. Those are the days I like best.

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