Please join us in welcoming Alicia DeBaie, our newest teacher and, now, whether she likes it or not, occasional blogger! She is passionate about good education, serious about loving your job and the life you lead. We are a lucky bunch of teachers and families to have such a great individual on board. Enjoy this delightful read, and get to know Alicia a little bit more!
An amazing looking loaf of bread made by Ms. Alicia Debaie, Teacher Via Vita Academy
I like to bake my own bread.
It’s kind of becoming part of my identity; I’m the girl that makes homemade bread.
I get it, it’s not something that a lot of people do anymore. But to me there is just something so satisfying about turning those simple ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water, into something as amazing as bread!
But making bread is a process, it takes skill, effort, and time.
It’s a lot like teaching. Teaching is also a process that takes skill, effort and time.
Skill. You might not realize it but baking bread takes skill, knowing what you can change about a recipe and what you can’t is a tricky thing. Some ingredients just have to be there, like flour, yeast and sugar. Just like in a classroom, some subjects just have to be there, like reading, writing and math. But who said you have to use plain old white flour when there are so many options! Here is where the skill comes in, how do you choose? Whole wheat, oat, rye, spelt, the list goes on and on, but will they all work? Can they be combined in different ratios? Are some better than others for particular types of bread? Knowing which flours to use and how to combine them is a skill learned through trial and error. The same goes for the sugar. You could add regular white sugar or you could use maple syrup, honey, molasses or agave. Then there are all the other things you can add! Grains, seeds and nuts – oh the possibilities! The mixing bowl is just like a classroom; textbooks aren’t the only way to teach math. Instead let’s build, measure, draw, model, and discuss! And who said we always have to read those books based on reading levels, there are so many things to read! We can read poetry, short stories, comics, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, novels, and maybe even a blog or two! But just like with the bread, it takes skill to mix all of these things into the classroom, skills developed through taking chances and trying new things.
Effort. Not always, but most of the time you have to put in the effort and knead the bread. There are those no-knead recipes out there and they are pretty great, but with some breads you just have get in there and get your hands dirty. Kneading dough is work, but it is work that I enjoy because you can see and feel the dough change as you work with it. The classroom is the same, sometimes the graphic novels and pattern blocks just mix right in, but often it takes some effort and you have the knead them in. Gathering all those resources and ideas, organizing them in a way that makes sense for kids to learn with them and from them takes effort and planning. So it is work, but again it is work that I enjoy because I get to see that look on a kids face when they figure it out on their own, when they put in the effort. I get to see the satisfaction they feel when they did it all by themselves, and I see the pride they feel when they truly understand because they created their own meaning in the lesson.
Time. That loaf of bread needs time to rise. Time to just sit undisturbed and let that yeast work its magic. I need time too, time to clean up, making bread can get messy. As a teacher I also need time, time to reflect. After a lesson, a unit, or even a whole school year I need to reflect. What worked, what didn’t? What did I love, what wasn’t so fun? What do I want to scrap all together? What needs to be tweaked a little bit to hopefully make it work just a bit better for next year? Kids need time too. Time to absorb, digest, and reflect on what they have learned or maybe didn’t learn. Time is a great thing. As the bread spends its time rising the flavours and texture improve. As I spend my time reflecting I become a better teacher. When kids spend time thinking about what and how they learn they come up with new questions and ideas. Maybe tomorrow those questions and ideas will guide our lessons and lead us to some new and exciting learning.
There is no such thing as a perfect loaf of bread. Each one is unique, bursting with it’s own successes and potentials. Potentials that spin off into new ideas, recipes, inquiries, and experiences. Just like savouring and learning from each loaf that comes out of the oven, I truly value the moments that build my experience as a teacher. Each student, every moment teaching and learning, every ounce of effort, skill and time, are the ingredients to the most meaningful career I could have chosen, and am lucky that I did.
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