The instructions at Tyner Academy went something like this:
In a circle of more than 20 people looped around a classroom, the first person turns to look eye-to-eye at the person to their right, then claps once. The second person turns to the next person on their right and does the same thing. That is, unless the first person claps twice. Then they turn back to the person on their left, clap once, turn back to the person on their right and clap once. And around the circle the clapping goes.
Or something like that.
To get a clearer idea of what was going on, you’d have to ask Cathy Butler, an exceptional education teacher at Tyner, who was running the show.
“This is an exercise in focus,” she explained.
The clap-or-not-clap-or-clap-twice exercise was part of the Future Ready Institutes kickoff at Tyner on Sept. 14, 2022. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Teaching and Learning Institute, along with the EPB Institute of Technology and Networking and Tyner’s Institute of Health Sciences, participate in the program at Tyner.
Started in 2018, Future Ready features 31 institutes at 13 schools in the Hamilton County system, offering students insight and information about careers that include teaching, engineering, technology, health, tourism and business. The institutes haven’t been held in-person since COVID-19 hit in March 2020.
“We’re making sure that students realize that education is not just about teaching. It’s about lots of things like social work and food service and all the things that make education run,” said Jennifer Lynberg, assistant professor in the UTC School of Education who manages the UTC Institute of Teaching and Learning.
“Our goal is to get them invested in their education at the high-school level to get them ready to move on after high school,” said Lynberg, who visits Tyner once a week to teach a college-level education course, which gives students academic credits they can take to any university or college.
During the Sept. 14 kickoff, students in the UTC Institute listened to University faculty and staff talk about their experiences in the world of education.
A Tyner Academy graduate and associate lecturer in the Department of Math, Debbie Cantrell told Tyner students that she has been a math teacher for 40 years. In her math education classes at UTC, she said, she discusses the different paths someone with a math degree can follow.
“What I try to do is take my students and say, ‘This is something you learn, but let’s make it more exciting. Let’s show why this works and how it connects to other things, whether it’s food or sports or money. Everybody loves money,” she said.
Tyner Principal Tiffany Ervin said her students might not realize how many choices they have once they graduate. The institutes can open their eyes to the variety, she said.
“We already know that a lot of our kids will go to college, but some take a different route. So why not expose them to opportunities while they’re still in high school?” Ervin said. “This gives them the hands-on experience they need to determine exactly what they want to be.”
Taylor Bryant, a junior at Tyner, said she already has chosen to enroll at UTC after she graduates.
“I’ve had lots of tours around UTC. I love the environment. It’s like one big family. I’m a talkative person, and everybody over there is just talking and enjoying each other.
“I liked the togetherness. Nobody was singled out by themselves. Everybody was included, and they had fun,” said Bryant, who plans to major in elementary school education with a minor in psychology.
Back at the clapping-for-focus exercise, Butler continued to give directions.
“Clap. Don’t double clap. Clap to her. Clap back. No, you clap first.
“If you’ve got somebody that ain’t going to make it around her circle, you might want to send it back this way because for the people on the other side, that’s getting little deep.
“If you clap twice, you’re telling her not to turn but to go back, don’t try it. So be careful. OK, y’all ready?”