Advice from a Drill Press

When I first started in the Agricultural Education profession, I somewhat dreaded teaching shop classes. Maybe it was the thought of having a student get injured or realizing I did not know how to change a grinder wheel. Those feelings persisted and festered through my first two years.

Now wrapping up a 5th year teaching shop skills not only have I fallen in love with working with my hands and mind alongside the students in the shop, but I’ve learned to appreciate and value the life lessons afforded by the equipment we wield. Each piece teaches a small lesson with bigger than life implications on how we can build a life worth living and a life that will be of lasting, enduring impact.

Over the past two weeks our 8th Graders have been working on their first shop project. It is an excellent starter project in that it entails the use of multiple skills to create a desk top pencil holder. Below are just a few of the skills employed:

measuring with a tape measure…

cutting wood blocks on the miter saw…

sketching out a drill pattern…

selecting correct drill bit/size…

reading a drill press rpm calculation chart…

manually adjusting rpm and belt arrangement on drill press…

clamping the work piece…

boring holes using the drill press…

hand/power sanding technique…

painting prep…

painting…

also did we mention safety for all these tools and techniques! All these skills gained and gleaned from such a small project!!

The overall favorite tool used by the students for the project was hands-down the drill press. When they cut their initial practice block and learn how to bore through wood, gaining skill on feeling the right speed and pressure you can literally see their eyes light up! Yet, there were some frustrations along the way…

Some students were going so fast through the block they were shattering out the other end, leaving hairline nicking out of the back of the bore hole. Some did not adjust their rpm speed based on their selected bit size. This led to increased surface friction and some burnt, discolored wood. Students learned the lessons that drill press needed to teach them and they went right back at it with their usual youthful energy! And through it all the drill presses were very forgiving.

Forgiveness.

Often times as we wrap up the year it seems we have been drowning in self-doubt, beating ourselves up for always being in catchup mode during the crazy spring, or being on last nerves with a couple of students. We dwell on the mistakes and take copious notes on how we will not repeat the same failures the next year. We are at the drill press of life/teaching and we just can’t seem to catch a break…yet the drill press beckons us back, much like life, saying, “Assess the reality, forgive, and act.” 

Wrapping up a year strong requires us to be in a mindset of reflection. Yet, there is healthy and unhealthy reflection. Unhealthy reflection leaves us trying to “perfect” the past…obsessing over the failures or thinking “if” only….these reflective thoughts plant seeds of bitterness and hurt. Not the feelings we want to wrap up a year!

Healthy reflection takes the form of “what if”, it is a future-focused mindset that sees possibilities, rather than missed opportunities. Healthy reflection is thoughtfulness with the intention of action. As we reflect consider what small, intentional steps you can take to finish the last week of school strong. Then, let’s ask ourselves, what are the small steps that can be taken over the summer that will build a strong foundation for the beginning of the new school year?

The final advice the drill press shares with us is to keep building (even after mistakes)…build up one another, invest in those around us, and build a future worthy of our shared lives. Enjoy the rest of the school year and hope everyone gets to celebrate a few graduations this weekend and next!!

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