The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.

In Which My Curly Locks Help Me Teach a Lesson

Today I was a biology teacher at Mahomet-Seymour High School. It should be no surprise that I had an excellent day. In fact, it seems that nearly every day has, in general, been excellent. My job is awesome, my students are great, and my colleagues are both awesome and great. Again and again, I find myself wishing that a full-time substitute teacher job existed in any of these school districts. Alas, ’tis not so. However, a full-time job teaching would be even better, and I am doing as much as I can to achieve that goal.

The focus of my lessons today was on genetic pedigree charts. The students are learning the basics of human genetics, and were identifying how dominant and recessive traits can be identified through family pedigrees. In the process of things, I managed to once again have several class periods where the students were fascinated by my naturally curly hair. I even had a co-teacher who was curious to know how I came about such lovely locks (not that anyone actually called them lovely, or locks). So I did a quick Google search and discovered that curly hair is a dominant trait. A quick pedigree chart established that my dad is not a carrier for curly hair (because his hair is straight), but my mom is (since she has curly hair). My wife’s hair is straight, which means that any curly hair that our children may have will come through me.

Curly hair is also most likely a trait linked to multiple genes, so it isn’t a straight forward AA/Aa/aa genome, but it is still pretty cool. So I used my hair as an introduction to the lesson. I was also able to point out how different genetic traits can lead to health problems, which is why doctors’ offices ask about family medical background. Having established a point of interest, I had classroom after classroom of students who were interested in the subject matter and keen to know more about the extra credit opportunity they will have tomorrow to map out their own genetic traits. It was definitely an excellent example of taking advantage of unplanned moments to teach and make lessons relevant.

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