If you have not seen "Call of the Wildman" it is a show about critter capturer Ernie (aka Turtleman) and his adventures helping capture and release various wildlife from unwanted places. He not only captures the critters, he does so with his hands which provides the "Live Action" he is known for in each episode. As I find myself completely enthralled with this show (although each episode is very similar: person calls with a critter problem, Ernie tracks it using a variety of methods and his dog Lolly, Ernie finds the raccoon/possum/fox/rat/whatever and after much chasing is assisted in the catch by his friend Neal (and sometimes Squirrel)), I cannot help but be entertained by the lengths this guy goes to get the job done. Of course, this got me thinking about my job as a teacher and the lessons I can learn from the Turtleman.
So, here are some pointers I hope to bring from this show into my classroom:
1. You do not need fancy tools to get the job done. Turtleman will use a stick, bucket, and a bag for most of his jobs. Often times he only really needs his hands. Whether he is trapped in an old car with a raccoon or a saw mill with a porcupine, he is able to get most jobs done with the use of his quick reflexes and able hands. I am super fortunate in my district to have access to computers for all of my students as well as some awesome materials and equipment for making art; what I know, though, is that I don't always have to use the newest fad or tool to get across the lessons I need to teach or to have my students to produce quality work. Often times success comes from getting your hands dirty and involved with the materials and the Turtleman is a testament to that.
2. It is okay to rely on your friends to help you. On most jobs, it seems that the Turtleman is able to get it done with his simple tools and friend Neal (you need someone else to do the Tornado to the bag once a critter has been captured). Sometimes, for the bigger and more complicated jobs, there are additional people called in to help. In my training and professional development as a teacher, I have acquired the knowledge, skill, and research to help me get through most challenges that I face. However, when I am trying something new or come across a situation that is new to me, I know I can turn to my PLN and they will be there to help me. Turtleman always knows when to call in a friend; knowing when you need help and how to ask for it can be important to completing any job.
3. Don't be afraid of the "Live Action" moments, embrace them. The most intense moments of the show are the "Live Action" ones. This term seems to be used whenever the Turtleman is about to get into a tight situation with a critter he is about to capture with his hands. Whether it is having a nest of rats fall on him in a crawl space or being swarmed by pigeons in a town hall attic, the Turtleman never loses his cool when these crazy moments take place. He stays focused on the job and gets it done. One thing I admire about the Turtleman is his tenacity to do almost anything to get the job done and I hope to bring some of that attitude when I approach teaching my students. I want my students to walk away from my classroom with a better capacity to create and understand art and rather than shy away from the chaos that can happen when learning takes place, I hope to use that energy to bring excitement and engage students in the process.
4. Take time to celebrate and share a job well done. At the end of every job, there is a reward earned for completing the capture of the critter (and all are safely released into the wild elsewhere). In addition to the reward of baked goods or nominal amounts of money, the Turtleman celebrates his captures with a very distinct yell of "Yi-yi-yi-yi! Live Action!" This is often followed with hugs from his friends and the patrons who have called him in on the job. Knowing when to celebrate a job well done is important to completing any task and sharing those accomplishments with others can be just as important. Whether it is a placement of a competition or successful display in our school, I plan to take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of my classroom with students and share them with our community through our class blog and online gallery space.
These are just some of the lessons learned that I hope to adapt to my classroom, but I am sure I could think of a few others as soon as I hit publish on this post. I am super excited about the start of school in a few weeks and hope to bring the same positive energy Turtleman brings to his work to my own as I start up the term in September!