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View Lane Kersting's profile

high school wood shops

by Lane Kersting
posted 06-14-2010 03:52 AM

16 replies so far

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 4008 days

#1 posted 06-14-2010 04:02 AM

Your guidance consulor can answer this question for you. If you are fortunate enough to have a woodworking class in school,lucky you. When I was in HS(60’s) my shop teacher was one of these people that said “this is such and such piece of equipment but we won’t be using it, it takes to much to clean it up!!!If I had a kid in school now and there was a shop teacher like that I’d be asking him a few choice questions(like what are we paying you for?)
Anyway, good luck

-- Life is good.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4127 days

#2 posted 06-14-2010 04:20 AM

Try this site out, it is a woodworking career type page.


View tooldad's profile


665 posts in 4800 days

#3 posted 06-14-2010 04:53 AM

I am a shop teacher. I have been for 12 years now. I have the dream job, a forgiving and understanding district that sees woodshop as a necessary. unfortunately too many see Industrial technology as the “technology” part and not the industrial part. Yes, cool lasers and CNC’s are great and bring in students, but you have to know how to operate and repair them, that is the industrial part. Once most students realize how much goes into really operating that type of equipment, most don’t continue on in the program and then it becomes a dumping ground. on the other hand the 2nd year classes are good kids since they understand what it takes. That is the “technology side”

The hands on side is a bit more rough around the edges and most see it as a big cost to most districts. Like I said fortunately the district I work for doesn’t. The instructor at the other high school in our district has a wood show each year to display what the kids do. He is a perfect fit to be “leave it to beaver’s” teacher. Most kids can’t stand him, but take the class because they want to do woodworking. So he has good classes.

However at my school, I get more of the “city” kids and have to cater to their interests to keep them enrolling. Now don’t get me wrong, i have good kids, but I also have my knuckleheads. I get a few a—holes in my freshman class, but I stay tough enough on them, not to make them want to come back. In fact I give D grades to those students, even though they really deserve an F. a D gives them the credit they need so they don’t hassel the home ec or business teacher to get practical art credit, also they don’t have to retake the class with the other shop teacher the next year. But the best part is, you need a C to continue on in the program.

Now an example of a knucklehead was this year. He was good enough to pass with a B last year, but gave me hassles almost every day. He took my woods I class this year. He got another B- but was a hassle. On the last day of his senior year this year, he came to tell me thanks for putting up with him, keeping him on the right track and that he did actually learn something from me. All of this with a tear in his eye.

Now as I said, I have the dream shop job. I just got it 4 years ago and it didn’t come easy. I have been in 4 districts and 6 different schools. I started out traveling between the middle and high school my first year. Wasn’t fond of that, so I applied for some jobs to get the message to the district I was working at, not planning on going anywhere, but I got a better offer and took it. About half way through the 2nd year, I realized that the principal didn’t really like the shop classes and he and I didn’t see eye to eye. I went back to the first district to teach middle school full time the 3rd year.

Did that for 4 years and then was “non-renewed” after being accused of administering corporal punishment. A kid was tapping on the desk with his plastic hair brush and after several requests to stop and not doing so, I took the brush and tapped him on the head with it. He claimed I bruised him with a “metal” brush and was actually accused of child abuse charges. All of this happened in February, and I was cleared of the charges in October.

Found a job teaching construction at a trade school. I took a group of jr’s and sr’s offsite to build a house each year. That lasted 3 years. Was going fine until the superintendant told the kids they couldn’t drive their cars to the site anymore and had to ride the bus. One afternoon his house got broken into, it was determined it was 2 of my students doing it in retaliation. I was given a letter stating that I was not at fault since it was after hours. “Mysteriously” at the end of that year, I was non-renewed.

A blessing in disguise was my wife that same spring got an offer to move to St Louis and so I had to move too. I told my perspective employers the story of the house, and most called me back the next day to offer a job.

I have excellent evaluations, I know my material, and I have continually improved my teaching styles and what I teach each year. I was best at teaching the middle school kids because I was so much bigger than them and intimidated them a little, plus I got new students each semester and was able to evaluate and improve from the previous semester. I got to where I didn’t even need a lesson plan, and the administrator required other teachers to turn theirs in, but he exempted me after seeing me teach.

I would not have been ready to teach where I am today 12 years ago. I have to be upfront, unless you know someone, you will get the middle school kids teaching bridge building or lasers, “industrial Technology” stuff, not the woodworking classes as most hope and dream for. It took “paying my dues” as I call it to get where I am at today.

Don’t throw away lesson plans or assignments you get in class from a teacher or any you generate. It is easier to improve on them that start over. I look at what I teach now, compared to the same unit 5-8 years ago, and think to myself, what was I thinking then?

Now finally, I had a student who graduated in 2009, who took my class for 2 years and is like a nephew to me. This is how close I became to him. He has decided to follow in my footsteps. I have told him the same stories I have told you. The road is not easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.

View tooldad's profile


665 posts in 4800 days

#4 posted 06-14-2010 04:58 AM

That only begins to tell my story. The hours, the hassles of getting equipment and materials, the setting up of the shops because nobody else knows how, nor do i trust them, since I am ultimately liable.

Let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 4145 days

#5 posted 06-14-2010 05:18 AM

Most wood shops are in Junior High schools here in CA. I am surprised the ABC school district didn’t cancel the wood working class. It seems kids in this area like working with their hands. So It depends.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 4145 days

#6 posted 06-14-2010 05:34 AM

It really depends in the area you are teaching it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26208 posts in 4191 days

#7 posted 06-16-2010 05:26 AM

In the Grand Rapids area, they did away with most all of them for the last 20 years. Now they are starting to come back. East Kentwood has a great woodshop with a CNC machine, too. Our wood guild and our turning guild both meet there . I have also seen the woodshop at Oswego high in Illinois and they buy over $70,000 worth of wood each year for school projects. Those kids make some expensive projects.

Look around for where you want to live and see what they are doing currently.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Randy L. 's profile

Randy L.

19 posts in 4024 days

#8 posted 06-16-2010 06:34 AM

We had an amazing shop and an amazing woods teacher. There were kids in my class who wanted absolutely nothing to do with school – they would skip classes, got terrible grades, etc. etc. BUT – they would show up at 6 AM to get an extra two hours of time in the woodshop. Our teacher was there everyday at 5 or 5:30 in the morning, he’d clean the fish he caught the night before on the workbench, and let everyone who wanted the extra time in the shop work.

He was the kind of teacher that had a ton of respect for everyone in his classes and found good in everyone and made it known. For this, everyone respected him. He would not put up with any crap, but was also leniant with the rules that everyone knew were bogus (i think the fact that he was getting close to his retirement years contributed to this!). He placed a lot of trust in ALL of his students, and in return had the trust of all his students.

To top it off he was an amazing, incredibly skilled woodworker. The projects he built are some of the best I have ever seen. He passed this down to his students – he would never let a ‘mediocre’ quality project leave his shop – he expected the best out of everyone.

At the end of every year, we would clean the shop out, move the tools aside and display all of our projects – grandfather clocks, ceder chests, gun cabinets, turnings, entertainment centers , etc. (all of very high quality for high school students) and we would have a fish fry with all the fish that he caught throughout the year for all of the faculty and students. It was a way for us to show off to the rest of the school what these students who the rest of the school thought were underachievers were really capable of!

I will never forget the time a fellow student sheepishly came to him to let him know that he accidentally cut a piece that he had a lot of time into just a touch too short. Our teacher thought about it for a moment, and with a completely straight face told him to “go find the board stretcher, I haven’t seen it in awhile – so you may have to look around for it.” This student spent the rest of class looking for the board stretcher, too embarrassed to ask for help finding it! Finally, at the end of class, someone finally clued him in. Everyone, including the student, got a good laugh out of it!

Sorry for the long post, but it brings back some good memories!

-- Randy - Milton, WI

View tooldad's profile


665 posts in 4800 days

#9 posted 06-16-2010 06:46 AM

The board stretcher is a teaching technique that is passed through the ranks of all shop teachers. I have used that one myself on a freshman. He too spend about half and hour looking for it.

Another line that gives the students a puzzled look, “You cut it twice and it was still too short.”

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4118 days

#10 posted 06-16-2010 09:21 AM

Hey Lane:

Good for you! I couldn’t think of a more admirable Profession than a Shop Teacher or for that fact ANY kind of teaching that involves “Technical Trades” of ANY KIND.

Our (Mine Canada , Yours USA) Countries are suffering the consequences of “You should be a Doctor, a Lawyer, an anything, (NO offense intended for those that are) other than a “Tradesperson”.

In my Humble opinion Tradespeople are the “Salt Of The Earth”!! NOTHING would get built, repaired, serviced, etc. without them! North America has a SEVERE shortage of Skilled Trades People. Yes! Times are a little tough right now and everyone is hurting somewhat.

I just thought of something that might be of some assistance to you. Highschool …..a while ago on LJ’s I thought I was seeing a lot of the same type of projects, surroundings , shop tables etc. so I clicked on a few people, which became MORE than a few Dozen…LOL.. and I noticed something similar???? BUT! As a Good Teacher might do (tooldad …LOL…) I’m NOT going to tell you WHAT. I’m going to make you look for IT.

Go to the “Projects” page. On the Left side you’ll see “Popular Tags”, go to the botttom, click on “view more tags”. A screen will come up …”Most popular project tags”....look for “wahoo” (Yes Lj’ers we have a “wahoo tag”), click on that tag and you will see MANY Projects pop up.

OKAY! OKAY! I’ll spill a little …LOL.. It will go back OVER a period of 1,000 Days! “Wahoo” is Wahoo High School in Wahoo, Nebraska. These LJ’ers (including “Cornhole Project”) are ALL High School Students!! In fact their Teacher is also on here, “JonH” I think he’s very proud about what his Students do in the way of Woodworking. Good for you JonH!!!

Maybe you should look for him and make him a Buddie (OOPS! Is that Politics?) ;-} He might be able to give you some good advice??

Have fun ALL! Lane. Now you know who I am, if I can be of assistance in any way don’t hesitate. On Here or a PM.


PS: Welcome to Lumber Jocks!! I had a look at your Mission Style End Table. Nice Work Lane. Keep it up!

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View tooldad's profile


665 posts in 4800 days

#11 posted 06-16-2010 02:44 PM

I grew up in Lincoln, 30 miles from Wahoo, NE as a matter of fact!

and yes, this upcoming year I was going to make a class page. I suggested the last couple of years for the students to become a member of LJ. A few did. However I love the comments LJ’ers give on the projects, so this year I am going to post most of the projects and then print out the pages to give to the student and also display at our open house.

View Xtreme90's profile


193 posts in 4278 days

#12 posted 06-16-2010 03:09 PM

Albion, ny. I took 5 years of school woodshop and loved every minute of it. It got to the point where I was basically the only shop kid left and I was fixing or making any wood related project/job. A project I did for the class, which was a black walnut and maple nut tray was my first and only purchase from my school board of education! :) it was awesome!!!!! I think becoming a shop teacher is a really good choice.

Good luck!

-- "I don't cut wood. I machine it!" G.M. The wood machinest

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 4566 days

#13 posted 06-16-2010 03:22 PM

I loved high school and tech school shop. Maybe another possibility would be to teach woodworking at a tech school.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View MrsN's profile


988 posts in 4611 days

#14 posted 06-16-2010 04:26 PM

I went to college to get a degree in Technology Education. This degree will let me teach classes ranging from woods and welding to drafting to pre-engineering design to electronics to photography, and any number of types of classes. When I was in college (4 years ago) I was told by a professor that traditional shop classes didn’t exist anymore and the few that were still holding on were just waiting for someone to retire. I believed him until I got my job teaching “Wood Fundamentals” and “Woodcrafts” at a high school, I also teach middle school tech ed that emphasizes woodworking. Realistically, I don’t think you will find a full time job teaching woods classes by the time you would graduate from college. But there are still lots of Tech Ed programs that have a wood class or two along with classes (both traditional “shop” and the newer tech ed type classes).
When I was looking for a teaching job, there were several openings in Colorado so there are possibilities. I was thinking about moving someplace new and having some type of “adventure”, and the idea of Colorado sounded really good at the time so I was looking for jobs. An idea for you would be to look at the web pages of school districts in the area or state. Many have class description lists or department websites, look at the kinds of classes that are included in the tech ed department. Think about if you would enjoy teaching some of the classes that are listed.
If you want to teach woods classes I think you should get a degree in Technology Education. The ITEA has a list of schools that offer degrees in Technology Education, I am not sure how complete the list is, but it has a few options. Take a look at some of the schools.
Also, talk to your guidance counselor. Part of their job description is helping kids make career decisions
I love my job!

View ABrown's profile


102 posts in 3996 days

#15 posted 06-28-2010 11:05 PM

I graduated In 07 my school had woodshop eventhough, I only took one semester. Me and the shop teacher had different ways of doing things.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 4008 days

#16 posted 06-28-2010 11:59 PM

The really sad part is that somewhere a while back, someone decided things like Ebonics were more important than learning a trade.
I honestly could not be a teacher in school today.

-- Life is good.

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