Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Teacher Gets Schooled

As part of my professional development, I have to focus on becoming a better writer personally.  This was a short piece that I shared on Friday.

The Teacher Gets Schooled

My day largely consists of small groups. I have a unique teaching situation where I have a smaller class size, which enables me to spend a great amount of time in these groups. These groups are fluid, constantly changing as the needs of my students change. I feel I do a pretty good job with the reading groups, but I struggle with explaining math concepts in multiple ways for my kids to have those lightbulb moments.

I end another day with my lowest math group. I try to be as positive and encouraging again, while in the back of my head thinking, “How can I find another way to explain equivalent fractions AGAIN?” I leave work, and head off to my cooking class.

I arrive, don my apron, and get out my new eight inch chef’s knife. I am now friends with fifteen people as we start our third class together. We all share the same bond of not knowing how to boil water, yet wanting to learn how to cook well. We come from all walks of life, young, older, retired, couples. Our professions range from a lawyer, nurse, retiree, homemaker, human resources, and more.

Tonight’s class is on poultry. In front of me sits an entire chicken, and I am supposed to cut it into the various parts. Chef Nancy is amazing at teaching, but she goes a mile a minute. I feel like the slow kid who just can’t get it.

Where is Ryan? Ryan is a quick study, and always seems to “get it” the first time out. Whenever I would be confused about the next step to take, Ryan would go over what I needed to do. What was I going to do without him here to help me tonight?

To make matters worse, my knife skills have much to be desired. To paraphrase another girl in class talking about my knife skills she said, “She has her own special way of using the knife,” to our chef/instructor. I know I am far from being proficient at using the knife effectively or quickly.

There was no way to slowly ease into this process. Our first direction was to snap the thighbone out of its socket. This took a surprising amount of force. My fingers are all wet and somewhat gooey, which doesn’t help me to maintain a good grip. Now I need to find the wishbone under the layer of skin and the neck and remove it. Cut. Cut. Cut. I am using my knife to cut the cartilage to separate the bones from the body of the chicken.

Piece by disgusting piece, I debone the chicken. Several times I had the chef come spend one on one time with me. I was embarrassed, but I knew that it was the only way I was going to be able to learn how to do this properly. Deboning a chicken was not for the faint of heart, and the process was very time intensive. I can’t believe that my Gran used to do this all the time. I am suddenly more thankful for being able to buy precut meat at the deli counter at Fresh Market.

I came into work the next day with a renewed vigor to teach my struggling math group equivalent fractions. It
had been awhile since I had learned a new skill, and I had truly forgotten what it was like to be green at something. I was a better teacher for learning to debone that chicken.

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