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In August of 2010 I started occasionally writing for a blog that I called melodysoup.

 

I wanted melodysoup to be a place where I could think about my own teaching and be an encouragement to others.

Here is a post from August 2010.

 

I hope you enjoy!  Bon appetit!

 

Soup

Preparation

First the chef has to chop up the ingredients into bite sized pieces, but before that they must have knowledge about what kinds of ingredients work well together – It’s just me, but I don’t ever plan to chop up a strawberry and put it in my tortilla soup… a bisque -for sure! …. but not a soup.

Also, the wisest chefs pay attention to the guests at their table. I enjoy spicy ingredients myself, and as a result I have over spiced my soups on more than one occasion. I didn’t think the soup was over spiced, but my guests did, so no one really enjoyed the soup and no one asked for seconds. I should have selected my recipe more thoughtfully.

Choice Ingredients

Wouldn’t it be nice if soup ingredients could simply appear in our kitchens? Either the chef or the folks who want to eat must go to the store, or harvest the ingredients. Someone has to plant the vegetables, raise the animals, milk the cows and make the cheese that we like in our soup. Our control over the history of our ingredients is limited at best, but we should choose carefully and remember not to forget anything. Tortilla soup would simply not be tortilla soup without cilantro…. don’t forget it. Also if you ever find that you have a blue ribbon heirloom homegrown tomato on our counter, don’t you dare put it in a crummy old soup! Instead, enjoy it cut into quarters with a little salt and pepper just for it’s own sake.

Simmer!

The actual cooking of a good soup has an art to it as well. There is an order, a layering of flavors that when added up create a party in your mouth. The building of the soup while the pot is on the stove involves a great deal of careful watching and monitoring to see how things are going at each stage…. if you turn away for one second in an attempt to multi-task, you’ll scald everything and the whole pot can be ruined. All of your senses are involved in monitoring the progress of the soup.

Growling belly or turned up noses?

Eventually, everyone else will be able to test the quality of your cooking skills by the fragrance or stench wafting from the kitchen.

Teaching

Preparation

First the teacher has to chunk the information into manageable parts , but before that they must have knowledge of the whole and what aspects of learning naturally fit together. – As a music teacher I absolutely believe that anything can be learned through the use of music and in fact some people (more people than we think) need music in order to learn the way fish need water to breath….. having said this, trying to integrate everything for integrations sake is sometimes a circuitous route and a more direct approach would be more effective.

The wisest teachers pay attention to the students in their class. Teach the student, not the content! I enjoy listening to lectures – I’m serious! I really do…. I am an aural learner, who enjoys talking and fully appreciates the art of speech. Consequently, I have over talked my students on more than one occasion. Personally, my tongue was just getting warmed up to wagging, but my students had glazed over a while back…. so I lost them. I should have selected my method more thoughtfully.

Choice Ingredients

Wouldn’t it be nice if our subject content could simply appear in our classrooms? Either the teacher or the folks who want to learn ( we call them scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, musicians, explorers) must either go somewhere to learn, or harvest the knowledge itself Someone had to develop the internet, decide that it might be important to know the function of a kidney or decide how Pi works. Our control over what must be taught and how much time we have to teach it is limited at best. An American literature class would just not be American Lit. without “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Don’t forget it! There are standards in each discipline that should not be watered down merely in attempt to get through all the material… Don’t allow the significance of “To Kill A Mockingbird” to be boiled into broth just so that there is time to read “Twilight” . (But we want to see the movie……… “To Kill a Mockingbird” has a movie too)

Simmer!

The actual teaching of a lesson is art. There is a way to layer or scaffold the information in such a way that students and teachers are excited. Constantly being aware of student progress as they move from stage to stage is essential. If you turn away for one second in an attempt to multi-task, you’ll miss a cue given by your students that would indicate either a lack of understanding or the need to progress. As teache

rs we often talk about how we wish we had active learners to teach who actively participate and actively listen…. what about being teachers who actively teach? Sometimes we become the passive ones in the classroom when we are distracted by so much “administrivia” that we let the “learning soup” in our classroom burn.

Growling belly or turned up noses?

Eventually, when our students produce evidence of what they are learning from us through a benchmark, a performance, a behavior, everyone else (parents, teachers, students, the community) will be able to test the quality of our teaching skills by the fragrance or stench wafting from our classroom…….

May your classroom be fragrant enough to fill the whole school

with the beauty of the learning happening within!

 

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