I started this baking project with the goal that I would become more confident with three tasks, 1) following directions 2) handling stress 3) the actual baking aspect.
This project has taught me a lot more than that. Just looking primarily at the baking skills I have developed, I can now using a piping bag to ice, I can make my own strawberry sauce, I can put together cake, and decorate cookies, I actually made a from scratch angel food cake, and was able to make meringue. These were all major proud moments in my learning project. I cannot believe how good some of the recipes turned out.
There are skills that I was not expecting to learn, such as the ability to read directions, connections between multiple recipes, and time management.
This learning project was about baking, but the amount of connections that I made to teaching was surprising. I am not talking about the fact that I can now bring cookies to my class on holidays, let’s be honest that I will probably still buy candy. I am talking about how I now learn how important writing a clear recipe, or lesson plan is for those that reading it. I may understand what is being written, but I need to write my lesson plans in a way that if I need a sub, they can read my lesson plans. Another useful skills is going with the flow, I know that as a teacher not every lesson will work out perfectly, some times I will run out of supplies, or a space will be double booked. This is something that stresses me out. However, managing to figure out recipes, fix mistakes and handle it when stuff just does not work out, is something that I have really become more accepting of. Wait time, in baking there is a lot of wait time, also know as the baking and/or cooling part, sometimes you need a lot of wait time and sometimes you only need a little. This is the same for students, some of them get a concept on the first try, some of them need a few more examples. Some students will know the answers right away, some will need a few minutes to think about the question. Wait time feels like the world has stopped turning, or at least it did until I started to appreciate wait time while baking. Now wait time means that something is getting done, even if you cannot see it immediately, students are thinking, they are problem solving, and hopefully only a few of them are day dreaming (just like that one cookie, no matter how many times you turn the pan it takes being alone in the over to actually get baked). It is OK to not be perfect, I am a perfectionist, I like my lesson plans running smoothly, my class organized, and everything to happen as planned. Yeah that world is long gone. Just like the meringue that wouldn’t stiffen, there are times when everything I do will go sideways and nothing will work and I will want to cry. But I won’t, at least not in front of students. It is OK to make a mess, so this isn’t something that I really learnt, mostly because I am very good at making messes. But it is OK when your classroom is a mess during art class, or when there are scrap papers everywhere during a productive math class because a mess can be cleaned up!
I learnt a lot more from baking than just the skill of baking. But the most important thing that I learnt is how easy it is to find strategies online, my favorite is the blog Joy the Baker. The blog provides lots of strategies for baking, simple strategies like measuring out your ingredients in advance, and tons of other hints in her Baking 101 category. You can find any recipe online, so that was never a problem but I find that I still like my family’s recipes the best.
I started this class hating baking, now I just dislike baking. I like it more when I get to use short cuts like store bought cake mix or frozen tart shells. This makes baking easier and less stressful. Is baking something that I will eagerly do to eliminate stress, NO, but it is something that I could do if I needed to. Which to me is an accomplishment.