When I first started my secondary education courses, nothing that was found in a textbook compared to the student-teaching observations. You would read about the pros and cons of whole language, the various scenarios of ideal classroom management, and how to find all my boyfriends, Piaget, Maslow, Bloom, and Erikson, in the students' learning patterns. But it wasn't until my first rounds of student-teaching observations and later in my first year teaching when I realized that I could know my textbooks cover and cover, and I still not know what to do with a pissed off teenager. Maybe Maslow and Bloom would do a better job than I would the first time around, but no one can say for real.
Looking into Preiss' shop from his classroom, reminds me so much of how important it is to be in the moment of learning. At 5:15 p.m. on a Monday, there are seven students working in the shop with Preiss, Dilossi, Simon, and Mark. Mark is a self-employed specialist of the GTM. He started working with the team a week ago. He fits right in. He works well with the students in explaining the steps for the kit car. Every now and then you hear, "shut up, shut up" from the students, which is a good thing.
These students are in the ideal situation. They are learning something in theory and actually seeing how it works in practice. Sometimes, I would find myself cringe reading the best practices of the classroom. It just wouldn't work in reality. Middle school and high school are the most difficult part of one's upbringing. There is absolutely no textbook that contains all the right material. You can't find the answers unless you are actually in the moment.
Within minutes, the students working in the shop confront problems and delays in putting together the GTM. Poor Justin Clarke, he hurt his finger. Justin Carter had to measure and remeasure the headlight and nose of the car. Daniel is remodeling the harness for the Ford.
"I have completely assembled both headlights and started working on mounting them on the nose. I had to think of different ways of tearing the fiberglass on the frame of the car to fit the molds of the headlights. I broke it. I broke one screw on the corner when I was drilling. Luckily, three screws would be enough to hold the frame in place. So I lucked up on that end." -from Justin Carter
Despite the setbacks, they are accomplishing a lot. It is amazing to see what they did to the GTM just within the last week. You know it is a good day when the shop smells like a campfire from the welding. More parts are needed to order. More wrenchs are needed for harnassing. More hours are needed to prove theories wrong.
Ride or Die