GAYS MILLS - Before I retired from teaching high school agriculture a few years ago, one of my favorite weeks of the year was during the summer when every ag teacher in the state gathered in Madison for the Ag Education Conference. The conference gave teachers from across the state a once-a-year chance to talk shop, take a variety of workshops, and bond with others engaged in our unique field.
One of the features of the conference was a teaching aids contest. There were 12-15 categories for entries and it provided a good exchange of “activities that worked for me“ for all in attendance. The sharing of ideas was a popular event and we all went home with many new things to try as a result of the contest.
One year, a new category appeared: humorous teaching anecdote. Any teacher with any experience has stories to tell about funny work-related things that have happened to them in and out of the classroom. I decided to enter the following story.
Early in my career, I taught in Ramona, California. The FFA chapter officers met at a different officer’s home about a week before each monthly chapter meeting.
At the second meeting of the year, we gathered at Mike’s house one evening to plan the agenda for the upcoming meeting. Randy, the president, asked Mike, the chapter secretary, to read the minutes of the previous meeting. Mike opened his notbook and said, simply, 57. Huh? That’s how long the meeting had lasted, 57 minutes. We all got a laugh out of that, but he was serious. A teachable moment had arrived and from then on, with a little coaching, Mike took detailed notes and produced complete minutes of every meeting. And I learned not to assume that everybody knew what “minutes” were.
So. I wrote the story up and submitted it in the contest. And I won! I was as proud as a dog with two tails, when my name was called. Awards for contest winners were presented at the banquet the last night of the conference. All winners got a nice wall plaque engraved with their name, the date, and the category they won.
I got my plaque and walked back to my table. It was only then that I looked at the plaque more closely. The plaque was for ‘Humorous Antidote’ rather than ‘Humorous Anecdote.’ The others at the table got a good laugh out of that. Although the contest chairman said they would gladly replace the plaque with corrected spelling, I kept it as it was.
It seemed like a strong entry for the contest the following year. Same category.