Learning About Teaching While at a Rodeo

Yep, you read that correctly. I learned a few things this weekend, while traveling roughly 2,000 km with my husband to a handful of rodeos through Saskatchewan and Alberta.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a barrel racer. It’s a sport I’ve competed in since I was 4 years old and it’s one that I enjoy immensely. It keeps me sane while keeping me on my toes.


My early barrel racing career

This year I am competing on a horse that was raised by my sister and trained by yours truly. Her name is Jellybean. She is 5, will turn 6 on the Fourth of July. We have had our ups and downs and things are truly uncertain when hauling a young horse to rodeos.

She and I made a run at a semi-pro rodeo in Saskatchewan on Friday. We were placing (which is super exciting, considering this was her 6th rodeo ever) against some of the best horses competing in Canada. We then traveled to a few rodeos to watch my husband compete. We returned to Saskatchewan on Sunday to compete at a different semi-pro rodeo.

I was so excited on Sunday morning, we were at an outdoor arena, one of the first of the season, and we were still hanging in for a cheque at the first rodeo of the weekend.

About twenty competitors before I was set to go, Jellybean began to limp. I got off, called my husband over and we began checking over what was wrong. We couldn’t find anything visible but I unsaddled her and we began caring for her.

My husband’s horse is also a barrel horse. I’ve competed on him several times over the last year or so. We get along pretty well. So when my husband suggested that I jump on Buzz to make my run, I went with it.


Video screenshot of me and Buzz in action on Sunday

Teaching, like barrel racing, sometimes presents scenarios where Plan A isn’t working and we need to move on to a new plan. We shouldn’t be afraid of improvisation and responding to the needs of our students. At the end of the day, we can create beautiful lesson plans that hit every indicator and outcome that do always engage our students. What works for one class may not always work for another group of students.

Don’t stress. Assess the situation, respond and try your best. That’s all we can do as human beings. Sometimes the most memorable material or skills are the ones that pop up unexpectedly.

Teachable moments are priceless and we should engage in those moments every chance we get.

I know, this is a silly post. I legitimately had a light bulb-epiphany-ah-ha moment while driving home on Sunday and I just had to share!


Learning Project Summary

When this semester began and I learned that I had to work on a “learning project,” I was doubtful. I figured it would be a drain on my time and that I would hate it. I was wrong. I enjoyed learning about engraving and I’d love to learn more about it. There are three day courses I can take from professionals to hone my technique. I am saving up for one of those courses!

If I had to describe my learning project journey in one word, it would be “roller-coaster.” On my trip from Calgary, I was sky-high with my expectations and how much I was going to accomplish with this project this semester. To say that I overestimated myself- is an understatement. I learned lots about engraving, more about myself and tons about online learning.

To kick off my list of things learned, I will start with organization. It is important to organize your research materials as sources can be scattered across the internet with various authors/contributors and information can differ depending on the source. I have an “engraving” folder on Chrome and my Safari browser on my iPhone. This really helped me stay organized. I also utilized Evernote to write notes, save websites and save pictures for inspiration. It even has a handy-dandy Chrome extension to help you!

Access to certain pieces of information may be limited and information is not always free. Sometimes you have to buy or rent a digital copy of a video, pay for a membership or invest in private lessons via video conference or phone call. This isn’t new to me, private lessons via phone call or video are common in the barrel racing world.

Having a network is important. I didn’t get the opportunity to establish an engraving network like I have for teaching, though I did gain information via online forums available to me. I believe the quality of my learning project suffered from my lack of network. I did gain some great sources from Twitter thanks to the Hobo Nickel Society. They responded to my tweet!

This reinforced another idea- don’t be afraid to ask for help! Someone in your network may be able to help you!

Don’t forget to reflect and learn from failure. Accept failure when it happens, explore why it happened and move on with what you learned from the experience. I know I failed mostly from a lack of practice and a lack of tools (you need the right tool for the job!), but I can still improve my skills with the tools I have and I can always buy more tools.

My last project is incomplete. I began engraving a pair of stirrups (See my post with stirrup inspiration!), but life got in the way. I plan on finishing the pair, but it might take me awhile to get them completed while we are calving and I am working full-time. Below are some photos of my process and a few of my projects this semester! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did when it came to their learning project this class! I’m considering a new learning project in the Fall, I just have to decide what I want to pursue.