Saturday, August 11, 2012

What If?

Teaching has always been one of my passions, whether it's teaching kids about tornado safety, or teaching adults how to prepare for a it's no surprise that one of the things I love best about volunteering with the American Red Cross is pursuing that passion.

The other night, I taught a class of brand-new Red Cross volunteers the fine art of responding to local fires. This is a four-hour class that has a very intense and very crammed curriculum...there's a video, a PowerPoint presentation, a walking tour...and tons of paperwork.

I've never seemed to master keeping this class to the scheduled four hours, and last night was no exception. I had one particular student who wanted to play the "What if.....?" game...and I, unfortunately, got sucked right into it and played right along. Argh. normal situations...people are going to have questions...especially when being trained in something that is brand-new. The class is designed for responding to the "average" house fire, but as we all know, "average" is a very relative there really ARE no average house fires. Every single fire is different; every single response is different...the setting, the atmosphere, the conditions, the emotional response of the affected - how can you put "average" on any of this? You can't.

I expect questions along the line of, "Well...what if the people have pets?" That's a common question, and certainly something we will run into....another common question is, "What if the people don't have any transportation to get to the motel?" Legitimate "what if?" questions are fine...I don't mind taking a few minutes to answer those.

Thursday night's questions, though, were a

"What if the guy has to wear a suit to his job tomorrow morning...and all of his suits are now ashes?" I told the student, "If all of his clothes are burnt, we provide a nominal clothing allowance." The student continued.... "Well, this allowance won't buy a suit. What if he HAS to wear a suit to his job?"

Um. Really?

Another question...."What if the homeowner won't let us do a damage assessment of their clothes, because maybe they have drugs in their pocket?"

Left field, I'm tellin' ya'. These questions were coming from left field. And they just kept coming.

As I was driving home late that night, I mentally reviewed what had happened...and how I could have handled things a bit better. Every teacher knows that you can't get sucked into the "What if?" game, because you can "What if?" things till the cows come home. Not only can the game run into infinity, but it can become very annoying to the other students. Not to mention, it can cause the class to run over and it can cause ME to not get home until almost 11:00...which is WAY past my bedtime.

So...lesson learned.

Reasonable questions? I'll answer. Far-fetched questions? We're moving on.

This teacher needs her beauty sleep.



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