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February 22, 2018

The Satisfaction of the “End Product.”

I have a theory as to why teachers like to watch the very popular TV show “Fixer Upper”….

I’ll give you a second to come up with some of your own reasons and formulate your own guesses as to why we’re drawn to it…. Do you have some ideas? Do you think you might know why?

Maybe, you might be thinking, it’s because teachers don’t necessarily have unlimited funds and are always working on projects around their own homes! Teachers tend to be handy and I would agree that many teachers paint, landscape, build decks, and do “odd-jobs” during the summer to supplement their income…But that’s not the reason why.

Maybe, you might be thinking, it’s because teachers are drawn to the social dynamic of the show. The host couple collaborates, shares their ideas, and compromises about the design options. The eager homeowner-to-be couple frets about the “unexpected” delays and costs and can usually barely contain their excitement about the process….But, again, that’s not the reason why.

Here it is. I’ll get to the point.

Teachers are drawn to this type of show because they get to see an end product. It’s what every teacher wants and what nearly every teacher is denied – The chance to see the reveal. Near the conclusion of the TV show, a large canvas of the “old” house is split down the middle only to show the newly remodeled, finished product.

It’s what we rarely see as teachers.

Whether you’re a kindergarten teacher who starts at the beginning, or a teacher of seniors who guides them through the final stages of their educational journey, you’re never able to answer the question of “How did we do?” Your students arrive, you teach them, you see growth (hopefully!), you say goodbye. There’s no moment of self-actualization when your student demonstrates that they’ve become all that they were meant to be. There’s no beginning, middle, and end like there are in all great stories. It’s a story with only a middle.

Teaching is like jumping into a 3 season-long series on Netflix but only watching a 4 episode chunk from the entire show. You’ll probably have a pretty good idea of what the show is about and a decent understanding of why the characters act the way that they do…but, unfortunately, you won’t have the complete picture. As a teacher of mainly juniors and seniors, I get the chance to watch the final four episodes of the show but still have no idea of what led up to my time with my students….or ultimately what’s going to happen. Elementary teachers have the even greater reality of watching only the first few episodes before losing their subscription to their own classroom Netflix show (which would be terrible!).

The next time you’re flipping though the channels and come upon a show about home remodeling/house flipping, a baking competition, or any other show that keeps you waiting for the finished product until after the last commercial airs, try this: Watch the first 90% of the show and then change the channel. If you survive the experiment, you can truly handle the classroom.

At the end of every “Fixer Upper” we get to see the finished product. We know it’s coming. The canvas is drawn apart and awaiting the viewer is the result of hard-work, determination, successes, failures, collaboration, creativity, and determination. Then the homeowners-to-be get to finally see the finished product.

If we could only be so lucky!…..One time I was.

A few years back I was standing in front of the Hruska Federal Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE. I was greeting my teachers as we were preparing to tour the US Marshal’s office (as a part of a Learners Edge on-site course!) when a young woman walked up to me. “Mr. Raabe!”, she said. “Hello…” I said, wondering how EXACTLY I knew her. “Do you remember me?”, she said and waited patiently for my response. “You were one of my students”, I said (hoping I was right!)…..She was and told me how much she enjoyed my class and how it influenced her moving forward in her career choice. I then had to ask, “What are you doing with yourself these days?”…and then it happened….The canvas drew apart and I was able to see the reveal: She said, “I’m a US District Attorney and I’m here for a case.”


I got to see what we, as teachers, are so often denied. A finished product.

Do any of you stay in touch with your students over the years? If so, what are your tips and how do you encourage that open teacher student communciation? Have you had any great fixer-upper reveals?

Lance Raabe is our on-site course instructor in Council Bluffs, Iowa.If you are looking for a course experience where you learn face-to-face, make connections with other teachers, and are ready to make a difference in your classroom and in the world, check out our summer on-site courses:

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!


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