The learning curve

Whew! That’s the word of the day, or the year! This past Monday was a day of learning. Not a day of sitting in a classroom or changing of stations to experience simulation exercises. It was a day when the classroom became an interactive playing field. . . maybe playing court would be a better description. Keep reading, it will make sense.

I’ve briefly mentioned in previous posts that this is my first year teaching high school in the public school system but I don’t think I have ever mentioned to what capacity or even what subject. I am what you call a teacher of innovation! In short this means I am what you call a professional taken from a particular industry brought into the classroom setting to then educate and prepare a group of students in said industry so that they can then begin a future in that industry upon graduating from high school. Whew! That’s a mouthful and let me be completely clear I AM NO EXPERT AT ALL, JUST TAKING IT ONE DAY AT A TIME BY TRIAL AND ERROR!

The industry I represent is dentistry. I am a Registered Dental Hygienist and I am the dental assisting instructor for a local high school career technical center! How about that?!?! Did you have that at your high school growing up? Me neither. The public school systems are really working hard to meet the needs of each individual student! It really is beautiful thing to watch the inner workings.

Innovation represents the fact that our school offers so many choices of career paths that haven’t been in the high school education system for long so the school system is thinking “outside of the box”. . . . by box, I am referring to your traditional classes. Innovation also refers to the set up of the classrooms and the “fields” in which are offered. Our dental assisting classroom is but traditional. We have 25 extra heads to help us think. We have 26 extra lights in the event we need a bright idea. And in case our coffee hasn’t kicked in (my class starts at 7:15 am) our chairs are on rollers so we just roll all over the place!! My classroom is NOT a traditional one of sorts and I have never taught in what is considered a traditional classroom! It has taken a minute to catch up to the belief that the “classroom” isn’t just a place with four walls and rows of desks and chairs. In fact, my own children haven’t really experienced this idea of “classroom”. I love to see that our society of educators isn’t missing the boat on what is deemed as classroom or even education.

Side note: My hat is off to any EDUCATIONALLY TRAINED TEACHERS out there. You are the true heroes. . . the ones that are forming the foundations and then building upon that foundation year after year. By the time the student gets to my level they are just months away from adulthood, and yes I “instruct” them in dental assisting but what I am discovering is that dentistry is but a fraction of the conversations we have in my classroom. Instead, it is just the continuation of those foundations that have been laid over the course of the last 12 years! Oh the words and thoughts that 17 and 18 year olds are able to produce blows my mind! They are true NFL players. . . no frontal lobes fully developed yet but ready to embrace the world ahead! I love to see their hunger for life!

Let’s take a minute to think about it, in scripture when Jesus taught did He call them all into the temple or synagogue and instruct them to sit in pews? No. He taught at the table while eating, he taught on a hillside, for Pete sake he taught from a boat while others were on shore. His classroom was every changing. Ever evolving. Never stagnant. That man, He performed miracles before anyone even knew what a miracle was for crying out loud! My hero!

If our example is Jesus and the classroom that He models is every changing, I’d say that the way education is headed seems to be pointed toward North! Our classrooms are going from rows and sitting to moving and rotating. Even as a teacher of innovation with a classroom in a beautiful brand new building, it’s tough to keep all the students moving and productively working together to accomplish a common goal. For me, it’s hard finding clinical externship sites that provide those hands on learning tools. It’s easier to put the students in a classroom and then get in the groove of the curriculum and bury our heads only to come up long enough to catch a breathe. But it’s life and sometimes even that is called for.

My “classroom” changes depending on the population of my pupils. When at home my classroom is life itself. Teaching moments are daily and often and the pupils are those that choose to enter into our home and then actively participate in it. Mainly my children but any friends or family that stop by to play or hangout. Learning is the revolving door that opens and shuts over and over in a Rush world.

Monday, at school, my classroom was the Dallas Mavericks practice facility. The playing court of national basketball players turned community dental public health clinic for the TeamSmile (R) event! DFW dental professionals teamed up with Dallas Mavericks to host the first TeamSmile(R) event in the area. The recipients were students from Dallas ISD schools in need of dental care. I donated my time to clean teeth and my students partnered with volunteer dentists and assistants to provide dental care for 300 children. May not seem like much, but to see the smiles on the faces of my students as they worked with these children was amazing! LIFE LEARNING AT IT’S FINEST! Didactic knowledge applied to real life changing hands on experiences. Look at my students! (all have signed photo consents)

Dallas TeamSmile(R) Event 2019

Here’s my challenge for the week or maybe even the rest of the school year. Think long and hard about what “your classroom” looks like and who your “pupils” are? These questions aren’t just for the professionally educated teachers but they apply to most anyone and everyone. If you can identify these two answers you are on the path to solving how to change a life one person at a time. We all have the court of life at our fingertips, it’s just a matter of how or when we choose to play!

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