My teacher learning goal this year is to improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology. Over the past five years, I feel like I’ve had a lot of PD and growth with my teaching strategies and I have developed a good curriculum for our design department. However, teaching a very skill-based course, I need to acquire new skills, especially since I haven’t worked professionally as a designer.
One strategy was to attend cooking classes to:
1. Learn new skills and cooking techniques
2. See how other people teach cooking
3. Evaluate the kitchen space and how materials/ingredients are managed
I not only gained confidence in creating sushi, I learned about Japanese ingredients I had never purchased or worked with before. I saw how much the teacher prepped for the class. (It was a lot.) But, I came to the conclusion that when creating a highly technical product, there may be more prep time needed, especially for a limited time frame (like my 60 minute class). Our chef-teacher and her team had measured out the quantity of all the ingredients, while still leaving a lot of the prep to the participants, like mixing, cutting and manipulating the food.
One other huge benefit to the class, was to take the class in Japanese. After that experience, it made me think that EVERY teacher, definitely every International School teacher should take a class in a language that they have limited proficiency in. It was good to be a student in that environment and experience what many of our new students experience. I was able to easily follow along, because the teacher did such a great job of demonstrating (with the assistance of the remote control camera-screen) and she was friendly and worked one-on-one with students who needed help. I think it is really interesting that you can identify good teaching without understanding language. I’d love to try this again in a school setting to see if I can learn or see learning in a classroom without mastery of the language of the classroom.
In the end, this was a really rich (and FUN!) professional development experience. I now give myself at least an hour to prep the kitchen for classes (which is time consuming) but worth it. I get to spend more time giving formative feedback to my students and I can really have my students focus on the skills I want them to, rather than try to rush around and in the end make a big mess in the kitchen, because there wasn’t enough time to do everything. I hope to do more cooking demonstration classes in the future to get more ideas to use in my classroom and continue to improve my own skills, in a variety of cuisines.