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Students Come Alive in Automotive Class

Teacher Capitalizes on Their Enthusiasm

By Steve Schuld, high school tech ed instructor, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I see students who have a hard time with core classes, but come alive in my hands-on automotive class. These kids are filled with energy when they can work with their hands. One commented, "I only came to school today because we have lab. Otherwise I would have stayed in bed."

The kids work hard in my class, and I try to encourage them to work just as hard in their core classes. I just nudge them and say, "If you can understand automotive technology, then you can use that smart brain of yours to work through those other classes for me."

Sometimes students will get pulled from my classroom because they are failing a core class. This hurts. It seems that something they enjoyed, like learning engine mechanics, has been taken from them. So they come to hate school.

When this happens, I go to bat for the student. I arrange a sit-down with counselors, students, and parents, to devise a plan that leads to the student graduating.

Students involved in sports, band, the arts, and after-school clubs develop feelings of accomplishment in school. The kids in my auto and welding classes are no different. As educators, we need to see where student interests lie, and then cultivate that interest so their enthusiasm will spread to the rest of their academics.

Dropouts are silent, so we need to be looking out for them.