This morning I was catching up on my Google Reader when I read a post by Pat Hensley. She’s been on a cross country trip and sharing her story along the way. First I read a post of when she came through Kansas and ate at a restaurant that I ate at during a conference in June. It’s exciting when people cross the same path. (More exciting if it happens at the same time.)
In this post that she wrote on July 10, she shares about what she learned.· The Devil’s Tower is more impressive in person than it is in pictures. · The trees dropping all these white cottony stuff is cottonwood trees. · There are rattlesnakes around Devil’s Tower (we saw one!) · Watching prairie dogs is like watching the Whack-a-Mole game. · Porcupines live in trees and their babies are born with quills which don’t get hard until they encounter air for a few days.
Now you may be one that reads this and goes, interesting, I never knew that. You also could be one sitting there going, “What? You didn’t know that?”
How many times have you heard the latter in your classroom? How many times have you, as the teacher, said that? I’ve never seen Devil’s Tower, so I hope to someday. I see cottonwood trees just about daily. There are rattlesnakes in Kansas, I’ve seen one in a cage. There are prairie dogs all over Kansas (video below). I didn’t know that porcupine quills were not hard when born, which I’m glad the mother of them are too.
What I’m sharing is that I could have that reaction to her and say, “What? You didn’t know about cottonwood trees? That’s just crazy!” and made her feel dumb or insignificant. Instead, I remembered that she is from South Carolina. I’ve never been there and I’m sure there are things there that I don’t know that she takes for granted. So instead, I was excited she learned something knew and celebrated with her.
As teachers, we need to be encouraging of all learning in the classroom, even if it is something they should have learned before reaching us. However, they may have been sick that day and missed it, or spaced out, or talked with their friends. . . .there are countless reasons why someone may not have known something.
I remember in college driving across the state of Kansas (I was born and raised in the central part of the state, farmland) with some friends. One of our friends from the Kansas City area saw a grain elevator and went, “Whoa! Is that a grain elevator? Those are huge! How do they get the grain into them?” (We farm area kids took a hold of this one.)
“Well, the truck pulls up full of grain then a helicopter comes down, picks it up and flies over the elevator. Then the truck is tipped into the elevator so that it can dump the grain on top of the grain already in there.” She believed us and wanted to see it happen. We all busted up laughing at her because she believed us. (For the explanation, go here) Luckily, she was a good friend and laughed along when we told her the actual way.
We were lucky that she laughed along with us. She didn’t know the information even though she was the same age. She great up in a different place and was not exposed to this information. I lived in Washington (state) for a while and talked with people about tornadoes and they flipped out knowing that we had them. I know others that come to Kansas and get scared when there is a thunderstorm because there’s going to be a tornado. (Large devastating ones are very rare) Knowing backgrounds of people helps to know their knowledge on subjects.
When in your classroom, remember that not all students (and teachers) have been exposed to the same information that you have been. Remember to celebrate whenever they learn something new. Also, be excited when you can teach someone something new that you have known for a long time. Remind students that not everyone has had the same life, so they should not say, “What? You didn’t know that?!?!?!”
The video below is that i took at our zoo here in Emporia, KS. It’s a small zoo that is free and very enjoyable. These are prairie dogs that live in the zoo and are always fun to watch. And yes, Pat, it does remind me of Wack-A-Mole as well.