The Power of Play
This week in Culinary Arts we are transitioning from Baking and Pastry to Culinary. At the beginning of this quarter, I tell students that above all else by the end I want them to be able to open up their refrigerators and cupboards at home and get excited about the possibilities to create something amazing with the ingredients they see there. I want them to feel confident not only in their skill, but free to infuse their own personality and style to their cooking. I view the skills that they learn in my class as a foundation that they will build on for a lifetime. The memories they make in my class are going to stay with them. If they are good they are most likely going to have positive associations with cooking. However, if the memories are bad, those associations are going to be negative and they likely won't have interest in building on those skills in the future. Creating an atmosphere where students feel safe to explore and play, is vital to building confidence and ownership of learning.
Yesterday in class, I taught students how to make one of the 5 Mother Sauces: Bechamel. They prepared the sauce and turned it into a Mornay (Cheese) sauce to make Macaroni and Cheese. Essentially, it was a basic white sauce with cheese added. They learned the fundamentals and I gave them authentic, immediate feedback on the Macaroni and Cheese's taste, texture, and appearance. They learned the skill, now it was time to take it to the next level and make it their own. The next day I had a variety of herbs, spices, vegetables and cheeses out for them to play with. They could create anything they wanted from the ingredients available. As students were let loose into their kitchens, I saw their creative juices flowing. They were smelling and tasting the ingredients, discussing, googling, and experimenting with flavor combinations. There was an electricity in the room that comes when the 4 c's are working in perfect unison with each other. Everywhere you turn students are immersed in collaboration, creation, critical thinking and communication. More importantly, they were having fun! They were laughing and smiling too! Now don't get me wrong...they were seriously learning, but they were playing. One of my childhood heroes, Mr. Rogers, says it best...
When students bring me their creations at the end of the class period, the expressions on their faces are priceless. They are so proud to show me their dishes. I love to hear their descriptions and explanations of what they have created. You can hear a pin drop as I take my first bite; students can't wait to hear what I have to say. The feedback I give is immediate and it is real. I explain in detail the flavors, the textures, and the appearance of the dish I am experiencing. I ask questions. I express what I love and give tips on how it could be improved. This reflection time is so important as students efforts are validated but more importantly, we discuss the struggles, victories, failures, and successes. They are able think through what went right, what went wrong, and how they could improve next time. The learning is rich, relevant and meaningful. By taking a skill they learned and making it their own, they now will have confidence to go home and open their own cupboards and refrigerators and create something amazing. In fact, it warmed my heart to overhear students telling group members they were going to make the dish for their family or dinner.
The playful classroom is one where students are safe, valued, immersed and empowered. There is curiosity and wonder. They are creating, collaborating, critically thinking, and communicating. Students are immersed and empowered. It is the maker of memories, laughter, and fun. The Power of play, there is nothing quite like it.
My EDUsis, Tara Martin, and I kicked off round 2 of the #GratitudeSnaps Challenge at the beginning of November and it was just what my soul needed. To scroll through the hashtag each day, filled my heart with such joy as educators and students across the globe were sharing the things that they were most grateful for. The authenticity, the love, the emotion reminded me that we are all in this thing called life together. We are not just educators, but moms, dads, sons, daughters, spouses, grandparents, friends, aunts, and uncles. We are people fueled by passions and dreams and given our own unique set of circumstances. Life can be full of amazing blessings and heart-wrenching struggles. Yet, when we choose to look for all that we are grateful for, our mindset shifts and we focus on the positive rather than the negative.
This month as positivity spread like wildfire across the Twittersphere, I could feel my mindset shifting and my heart filling with joy and gratitude. New friendships were formed and I felt deeper connections with those already in my PLF. To read #GratitudeSnaps from kids of all ages opening up their hearts to share their deepest gratitude was more touching than words can express. Thank you to all who participated in sharing a piece of yourselves with us. Please keep sharing your gratitude and spreading your positivity with the world!
Running is in my blood. I grew up with a dad that was a legendary track and cross country coach and I have many wonderful childhood memories of being a coach's daughter. There has always been a degree of comfort in lacing up my track shoes and hitting the roads. However, I wouldn't say it comes easy for me and I most certainly haven't kept it as a consistent part of my life over the years. Though, when I gain momentum and hit my stride....it feels somewhat magical. My confidence gets a boost, my mood lifts, and the ideas start flowing.
I had found that stride over the summer months and was feeling quite awesome. Then...life happened. The west coast fires hit and suddenly I was surrounded in all directions by a ring of fire. The air was suffocating and somehow it felt like I was breathing it in even when indoors.
I know.... I know.....
After what seems like forever, the fires were over and the air was clear once again. It seems logical that I would lace up and hit the roads immediately. However, that wasn't my reality. I didn't lace back up and excuses became more excuses and before I knew it, I was going on month 3 of unlaced running shoes.
This past week, that all changed. I hit my peak of frustration. I was lethargic, unmotivated, and I'd had enough. When voicing that frustration, a good friend said this to me... "There is zero you can do about the days you lost... start today." It was the wake up call I needed. Later that week when chatting with my PLF in #XPLAP, I voiced the need to get back to it. My friend, Stefanie Crawford, sent me this tweet:
This side conversation took on a life of it's own and before I knew it my friends were all chiming in with support. My new friend, Laurie Wong Roberts, started a Strava group called #EDUrunners and educators from across the Twittersphere started jumping on board. Click HERE to read an excellent post by my friend, Adam Powley, explaining in detail how it all happened. Sign up for Strava and join in too!
I am on day 4 of my running streak and I can feel the momentum beginning to build. It is starting to become part of my routine. However, it's not easy. Today I woke up to rain and started second guessing getting out of my warm PJ's when I saw this post by co-author of Kids Deserve It, Adam Welcome:
It was what I needed to stop the excuses and lace up. I bundled up and headed out. I'm not gonna lie, the first mile I felt like stopping. It hurt. But, I kept thinking "I was able to get to 2 miles yesterday, I can do it again." I reached a mile and I felt like my breathing was more steady and I had hit my stride. Then I started thinking about my pace yesterday. Could I run just a bit faster? Could I match yesterday's pace or maybe even come in a little faster? Personally challenging myself, gave me the spring in my step I needed to pick up my pace and finish strong. I knew there would be a community of educators keeping me accountable too. I couldn't give less than my best effort.
As I completed my final stretch of the run, I thought about how this relates to so many aspects of life. There is always going to be an excuse. As Adam Welcome say's, "I run, but whatever you do just get out there and give it 100%, make it happen, it's up to you, no excuses!" I couldn't agree more. You've got to get after your goals and make it happen. Get out there. Find people who support you. Lace up everyday rain or shine. You'll gain momentum; you'll find your stride. Then, when life happens (because it always does) as my friend reminded me, "There is zero you can do about the days lost...start now! GET AFTER IT!
If you don't follow Adam Welcome...do it now! He is the co-author of the amazing book, Kids Deserve It, and his book, Run Like a Pirate, will be published by Dave Burgess Consulting in early Summer 2018. #RUNlap fever is sweeping the country. Follow the hashtag and be inspired daily by Adam and other educators getting after their goals!
Just Be You...Tell Your Story
A few years back I ran across this image that was posted on Instagram by Dave and Shelley Burgess....
It was one of those messages that strikes when you least expect it and stays with you for weeks to follow. I took a screenshot of the message and have referred to it many times on days when I need the reminder...
Just Be You
Tell Your Story
In this wild and incredible connected world we have the unique opportunity to learn from people across the globe 24/7. We can collaborate over a Google Hangout, engage in Twitter conversations, and join in on Voxer conversations any time we wish. We can chat with our favorite authors and those that share our same passions. With this rapid fire of inspiration coming at us around the clock it's nearly impossible not to learn and grow as an educator. Being connected has fueled my fire for education and challenged me to not settle for the status quo, but to continue innovating to create a classroom where learning is magical. It is not an exaggeration to say that my teaching has been transformed by the educators in this space. My PLN continually encourages, supports, challenges, and pushes me beyond what I ever imagined was possible.
As I was chatting with my dear friend, Tara Martin, I shared with her the image above and how it resonated with me. She brought my attention to the little words that nearly blended into the background of the image...
SMILE. HELLO, SUNSHINE. TAKE A LEAP.
I couldn't help but think of those little nudges of encouragement my PLN has always given me when I most needed it.
Smile...you are amazing.
Hello, Sunshine....I believe in you.
Take a leap...you've got this.
Yet, even in the midst of this amazing support and encouragement I can allow those words to blend into the background and begin to compare, doubt, and second guess the value of my story. In fact, my story has been so largely impacted by so many, I sometimes start wondering how much of it is my own. Where am I in it all? As I battled those negative thoughts that were once again beginning to surface, Tara, asked me this...
What's your "WHY"?
I went to bed too tired to answer, but with the question on my heart. I didn't spend much time thinking about it the following day, yet when I had a moment to message her back without hesitation I wrote this....
To share the power of creating magical learning spaces that are filled with joy and passion.
A place where....
...play is encouraged
...curiosity and wonder fills the air.
...creativity and collaboration are abundant and enthusiasm is electric.
...risk taking is not only encouraged, but applauded.
...students are not only immersed, but empowered.
...memories are made and passions are realized.
...every student experiences joy in learning and leaves school ready to chase their wildest dreams.
I realized my "WHY" is the fire that burns deep within me.
It's made up of a collection of moments and experiences that have shaped me.
It's my heart.
It's my story.
It's my manifesto.
No one else has a story just like mine. Yet, my story may be just what someone else needs to hear at that moment in time to inspire and encourage them in their own educational journey. So many people have helped transform and shape who I am as an educator, I want to give back and do that for others as well. The fire that burns within me might be the spark that ignites someone else's flame.
So ask yourself.....What's your "WHY?"
Just be You.
Hello, sunshine...Take a leap.
Tell your story.
This past week I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Shift in EDU Summit at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in beautiful Coconut Grove, Florida. This summit experience is like none other and one I will always hold near and dear to my heart. The hospitality of St. Stephens staff is unmatched. From the moment you pick up your registration packet Director of Innovation, Inge Wassmann, and her crew make you feel welcomed as if you were family. All of the special touches from the fun social events to the absolutely amazing food (I'm a culinary teacher...and I know good food!), made it top notch from beginning to end.
This is the 3rd time attending this summit in beautiful Miami, and I will tell you that the one thing that sets this event apart from all others that I've attended is the people. Shift in EDU brings in the most inspirational and incredible educators from around the world. Each year I attend, I leave deeply inspired and with friendships that are lasting. This year was no different, and I know I will be processing this event for weeks to come.
To give you a peek into my Shift in EDU experience, I'd like to share sketchnotes I created of the keynotes and breakout sessions I attended. Enjoy and I hope to see you in Miami for Shift in EDU 2019!
Downloadable sketchnotes on participate.com!
Student Engagement & PD Specialist in Southern Oregon, Canva Learning Consultant, Canva Education Creator, and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.