Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teaching is like Getting a New Camper

camperA couple of months ago, we bought a new camper. It is something my husband has wanted for the past few years because he was getting tired of our tent camping. We ended up with a 16 foot Casita Freedom Deluxe trailer that we pull with our Tahoe. After camping the past few months in our trailer, I saw a lot of similarities to teaching. Here are some things that I’ve learned.

1. When trying something new, it takes a few months before I can really decide if I like it or not. I wasn’t sure if I would like camping in a camper but it is a wonderful thing when it rains a lot (which it has done this summer!). At school, whenever the administration introduces something new, my first reaction is to hate it but I should give it time before I make a decision.

2. With all things, there will be some good things about it and some bad things. There are some things I like about the camper and others that I don’t. I feel like it is keeping up a second house! The same thing for the classroom. I love the teaching aspect but I hate all the paperwork.

3. Certain things are good for certain situations, and not for some others. I think we will enjoy the camper more in the mountains than when we are at the beach, especially since hotel rooms can be found for the same price as a camp site. Certain types of lessons work for different size groups, different types of students, and different age levels.

4. When you fix one thing, sometimes other things which are weak may break down after the first repair. We fixed the brake pads on the car but apparently the hoses were weak and old which caused them to break after the new pads were put on. In teaching, I need to watch for the weak spots and be ready to give help when needed.

5. I’m never truly finished with learning new things. It seems like I learn something new every day with this camper. Other experienced campers are always willing to share their knowledge to make my experience easier and better. The same goes for teaching. There are many more experienced teachers out there who want to help make my teaching experience easier and better.

6. Extreme heat can make things smell worse. I didn't realize that you had to add deodorizer to the camper toilet or it smells really really bad. The same thing in the classroom. In extreme stressful situations (first days, before holidays or exams), you need to freshen up the class to help them from acting out. This might involve extra praise, more understanding, more patience, and a calm demeanor.

7. I have to be flexible. Sometimes the things we plan don’t always work out. When we arrived in Florida, it rained for 2 days and the forecast called for a week of rain due to a tropical storm arriving. We decided to pack up and head for home. There is nothing wrong with changing plans when something isn’t working instead of plodding through and making everyone miserable.

8. Having a positive attitude can go a long way to making the trip pleasant. We went on one trip where nothing seemed to go right. This made us cranky and argumentative with each other. We couldn’t wait to get home. The next time we went, I was determined to have a better attitude. Some things still happened but I didn’t let it ruin my attitude. We were able to deal with the problems and move on in order to enjoy our trip. This is also important in the classroom. Having a good attitude can affect my lesson I teach, the reactions of my students, and how the whole day can go.

Do you go have a camper? What lessons have you learned? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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