Friday, May 23, 2014

Thanks Dad For Taking Me Fishing

Posy by Rachel Cuppy: Rachel has been teaching for 14 years. She has taught K-12 in both public & private sectors and the last 7 years in alternative education before coming to Bettendorf High this school year. You can follow Rachel @rcuppy1

As summer quickly approaches, I find myself daydreaming of going fishing on my dad’s lake.  He bought the “farm” when I was in kindergarten and I spent countless hours there each summer running free, learning to fish in our lake, and discovering who I am.  My best memories of growing up are in boat, listening to my dad’s stories, with a pole in my hand.  I look back now and realize that, by teaching me to fish, my dad ultimately taught me how to be a successful teacher.   
Before I even really began fishing, my dad was explaining to me the types of fish in our lake.  He showed me pictures and explained to me that some types of fish hang out at the edge of the lake and others usually stayed at the very bottom of the deepest parts, where the water was dark and cool.  He bought me my first fishing pole and made be practice casting in the front yard with a weight on the line instead of a hook. I would stand for hours in the front yard casting the weight he tied onto my fishing line.  I don’t think I ever hit the bucket target he set out for me, but I got pretty close after a few huge misses.

On the nights before we went fishing he would make sure we laid out our fishing clothes and had the cooler ready to be packed.  We always went to bed a little early on those nights so we could wake up early in the morning, rested and ready to go.  Getting up early was never easy for me, but I came to understand that it really made a difference to get up and get going before the sun was at its peak. Being a red-headed pale child, the sun was not my friend.  It only took a couple of times of getting burnt badly and I learned that during the late morning and early afternoon, I needed a break from its harsh rays.

After we arrived at the “farm,” my dad would sit with me on each fishing trip and look through my tackle box.  He taught me that you need to be prepared and have different hooks, baits, and lures, because you never know what the fish may be biting on that day.  I learned quickly that, although you needed several options, the big flashy lures, baits, and accessories quickly made my tackle box too heavy to carry.
Once out on the boat my dad would watch the water for a few minutes before he would row us to the perfect spot.  He made sure I baited my hooks, set my bobbers, and had the correct amount of weight on my pole.  He watched me cast and encouraged me to be patient when I did not get a bite on my line within the first few minutes.  He worked with me time after time as I excitedly jerked my bait out a fish mouths when I did get bites.  Eventually, I learned to be patient and set the hook so that I could reel in my catches.  I remember quite a few “monsters” that fought me hard and, when I finally got them into the boat, they were tiny little fish that seemed so weak.  Big or small, my dad cheered each time I proudly held up the fish I caught.

Occasionally, we would jug fish using chicken liver for bait.  Jug fishing was always exciting because we usually caught big catfish that were always interesting to me.  I remember the first time we caught something other than a fish on our jug – it was a snapping turtle.  I lifted the jug out of the water expecting a catfish and saw an angry snapping turtle.  I called for my dad and he came to the end of the boat and together we got the turtle to the shore where he could be dealt with in safe manner.

Not every trip we took to the lake was successful.  Some days, no matter what we used for bait or where we went on the water, the fish would not bite.  My dad would take those opportunities to admire the beauty all around us.  We would look at plants, clouds in the sky, bugs floating on the water, and logs that had been in the water for many years.  We never wasted time focusing on a bad day fishing because my dad always helped me focus on the beauty around us.

Year after year my dad took me fishing.  As I grow older, I know a lot of success I find within my classrooms is rooted in those trips. 

What I learned……

1. I learned to get to know my students: it is important to understand their likes, dislikes, how they feel they learn best and what their family is like. Students work best for teachers who take the time to understand and care about them.

2.  I learned to be prepared to offer students more than one option in demonstrating knowledge of materials.  It is important to be flexible, what works today with one student may not work tomorrow with another student. 

3.  I learned that practicing and being prepared will help me prevent wasting time and allow me to teach more effective lessons. Being prepared allows me to model responsibility and a good work ethic to my students.

4.  I learned that teaching requires me to use a variety of teaching methods.

5.  I have learned to focus on research based and student focused methods, instead of wasting my time trying to learn about many different approaches that are not practical for me to use.  After all, having a variety of teaching methods is a wonderful thing, but having too many methods will confuse and frustrate students and myself.

6.  I learned to observe my students and celebrate successes no matter how large or small they may seem to me.  Every single student has something to celebrate.  It is my job to help them feel successful and celebrate their accomplishments.

7.  I learned to ask for help in dealing with students, parents, and even co-workers when I was in over my head.   

8.  I have had to work with many challenging people throughout my career.  I aim to solve my daily trials by being honest and open with communication, if that fails I am not afraid to ask a colleague or administrator for help.

9.  I learned that, even on the tough days, there are plenty of blessings around me to focus on.  All I need to do is look around and change my focus to the students who are all around me in order to see those blessings.

Thanks dad for teaching me to find success in my classrooms. 


1 comment:

  1. Rachel - what a wonderful tribute to your father. Sounds like an amazing guy. I know personally how proud he is of the teacher that you have become. Thank you for bringing your excellence through our school doors each day. You are changing lives every day. Thanks for all that you do to help make BHS a great place to work! - jimmy