Sunday, November 15, 2015

How do you bake a cake?

Recently, I was chatting with someone I consider a true expert in our field.  We were talking about what seems to be missing in today’s classrooms.  Don’t get me wrong, it was not a cri

tical conversation about today’s classrooms.  In fact, it was an acknowledgement that teaching today is harder than it has ever been….students are more diverse, parents more difficult, the content has increased as have the expectations.  Another variable that has greatly increased for teacher is the access and availability of resources. There are so many “researched based” ideas out there that a quick search of the internet or even the classroom bookshelf gives a teacher an abundance of great lesson ideas or quick fix strategies.  Here is where my wise friend struck me with an interesting observation.  She asked how many teachers know how to cook from scratch? And how many bake cakes from a box?
The premise was simple.  I have had some excellent cakes made from a box (even made a few myself).  I dump the contents in, add an egg or two, a little milk and PRESTO!  I have a cake….actually, I have a pretty good cake.  One that I would even serve guests and be proud.  The problem is, I have no idea how to bake nor the first thing about what goes into making a homemade cake.  There is also no way I could teach someone else how to bake because I don’t understand the process, I just follow the recipe.  When an expert baker begins a cake, they know what ingredients to add, they put a little extra here and a little less there based on personal taste.  Because of their experience and their knowledge, they know how to make the cake a little lighter or sweeter or whatever they want.  They are designing it as they go and if you stopped them to ask, they could explain the why behind each ingredient and the order in which they should be added. 
Teaching is no difference.  The true experts (the bakers) can design a perfect lesson because they understand the content and their students (what flavors do they like?).  They know what order to present the information. They know when to add something extra and when to leave out something out that is not needed.  They know what is important.  

Box cakes lessons and resources are very necessary and can be very good.  They help us be more efficient and feed our students.  In a day and age when everything is so busy, it is important to have tools that save us time and energy.  It is equally important to have someone that knows the ingredients (the process) and can make adjustments as needed. We need teachers that are bakers!!!