Mishaps In Teaching #1

Sometimes Life Happens Right in the Middle of Your Lesson Plans

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

I’ve had my fair share of mishaps in teaching since I’ve taught in some capacity or another for 50+ years. I’ve had the privilege of teaching some of the best kiddos you’d ever want to meet. We’ve had some great times and, yes, some not so great times. I loved it when my lesson plans came together, and the children enjoyed and responded positively to what they were learning.

I must admit, though, some of my most memorable moments are the mishaps life threw at me right in the middle of my lesson plans.

I’ve decided to share some of these stories with you over the next few weeks. Most of them don’t have a moral to teach or some spiritual truth I can dwell upon. However, these are true-life experiences forever etched in my mind. Some are funny. Some are shocking. Some are shockingly funny. My first story falls under the “shockingly funny” category.

The Squirrel

I worked at a small church school for several years. The first year of the school I taught a combined Kindergarten and First Grade class. For a couple months, two afternoons a week, I taught a combined Bible Class for grades 1-6.

When the school first opened, our students didn’t immediately connect with each other. Most of the students came from various public schools across Omaha and some weren’t crazy about attending a church school. As a result, there were disagreements and bickering.

During the first month of school, in Bible Class, I did a three-part series on the word “perspective.” I used the cliché, “Don’t judge an Indian unless you walk a mile in his moccasins.” The lessons were designed to draw us closer to each other and to the Lord by helping us see our new environment through someone else’s experiences. (For example, one family drove over an hour one way to school. To get there on time the kids had to get up at 5:30 a.m.)

At the end of the first lesson, I had the children spread out around the classroom (a.k.a. the White’s living room…long story I’ll tell another time). They could sit anywhere they wanted but no two people could face in the same direction. They drew charcoal pictures of the classroom from the perspective of where they were sitting. The lesson hit home and the response from the students was positive.

After the second lesson, we went outside and did the same thing. They could sit anywhere they wanted but no two people could face in the same direction. They then drew charcoal pictures of the outdoors from the perspective of where they were sitting.

I had one little guy in third grade who couldn’t decide where to sit or what to draw. For about ten minutes he walked around trying to find the perfect spot. I told him that he’d have to choose, or I would do it for him. Finally, he found something to draw.

A squirrel had stopped in the street to open an acorn. Zeke sat down in the grass to draw the cute bushy-tailed critter. Some of the students were “oohing” and “aahing” the small rodent. Zeke no sooner sat down when a white van came careening around the corner and squashed the poor, unsuspecting animal. The children saw it all.

I held my breath not knowing how Zeke or the other children would respond to such a tragic death taking place right before their eyes. After a few seconds of silence, one little first-grade girl spoke, “Uh, does anyone have a red crayon?” (And yes, she said it with emphasis on the word red.)

The students then ran to the road to see the dead squirrel. I could hear comments of “Oh cool, road-kill.” “Gross. Just gross.” “Is he in heaven?” “I think I’m going to barf.”

Thank goodness the school day ended a couple minutes later.

Again, there’s no moral lesson to take away from the story. No spiritual truth I can draw from the unfortunate occurrence. All we have is an event that makes us chuckle when we get together and reminisce about our school days.

The good news is the children learned, not only to like each other, but to love each other too. Some are still friends twenty years later. Maybe that’s the point of the story. This was the first thing that happened to us as a group which drew us together. It gave us common ground even if it was connected to a squished squirrel.

(This is the first of many stories I look forward to sharing with you over the coming weeks. The next story will be about a little preschooler who wanted to go to hell.)