As a technology education teacher, Ken Krings enjoys finding innovative ways to reach his students.
Krings, in his 21st year of teaching at Kickapoo High School, said one of the things he likes most as a teacher is to facilitate learning through a hands-on approach.
“I want my students to be problem solvers and free thinkers,” Krings said. “I hope that the exposure to these skills piques an interest that leads to further exploration and subsequent skill development. This can sometimes culminate in attending further training at a technical college or a four-year university, and sometimes straight into the workforce.”
It’s that same teaching goal that has not only helped his students learn, but also grow as learners.
“Tech ed has given me leadership abilities that I can utilize in other classes,” Kickapoo junior Helen said. “I've learned great measures of independence that come into play in other aspects of my life. When working in the shop, you are expected to both rely on Mr. Krings when necessary, but also learn things on your own and grow individually.”
For Krings, being a teacher is more than a profession. He said he takes pride in observing students start with an elaborate design, and witnessing them work to create something unique.
“Some students I work with hate school, but they love tech ed and being in an environment that allows them to use experiential learning to make real world connections,” Krings said. “I like the fact that we can take ideas, turn them into drawings and learn the tools and skills needed to make it a reality. In this process, kids learn to research and identify a problem, plan solutions, create prototypes, test and evaluate, and improve the final product. Most students who give shop classes a try really find joy in making a product from a drawing.”
From using different techniques to make metal signs, to edge and end grain cutting boards, to a wooden desk, Krings’ students are never bored or short on learning experiences.
“It’s a great way to be hands-on and learn about the real world,” Kickapoo senior John said.
Krings once found himself in a similar situation as many of his students. Unsure about what he wanted to do with his career, Krings attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout, but realized after a year that he wasn’t sure about his future. Taking the advice of his uncle, and art teacher at the time in Antigo, Krings switched programs to technology education, and the rest is history.
“Being a tech ed educator allows me to expose students to these different vocations that they may have never thought about pursuing,” Krings said. “We need these skilled tradespeople to come into schools and do presentations to our students.”