While my grandson was visiting me this past summer, he had the opportunity to have cooking lessons at a local café. One item on the café’s menu is a meal called the “Pancake Challenge.” This meal involves challenging the diner to eat three plate-size pancakes in 30 minutes. If they complete the challenge, their meal is free. As you can imagine, only a very select few are able to eat that much pancake in that amount of time. My grandson learned how to make the pancakes, flipping them with a pizza spatula. The amount of food is almost obscene, much more than I could ever eat in several meals. One of my interns this year saw this picture of my grandson and commented, “That plate looks like all of the things that I had on my plate at the beginning of the school year!”
Supervising interns (first year teachers) this year has been a reminder to me about all of the ‘stuff’ that you have to do to be a teacher. I am in classrooms each week, but helping set up classrooms has refocused my attention on how much we are really expected to do as teachers. Besides managing a classroom and absorbing the content of the curriculum, there are helper boards, calendars, visual aids, nametags, and other responsibilities too numerous to mention. But, I thought of the pancake analogy when dealing with curriculum and standards that are part of every classroom setting. Even Early Head Start has standards now. Looking over everything that needs to be covered and mastered during a school year, it is much like three plate-size pancakes that you need to eat in 30 minutes. There is almost too much to consume and digest. It takes a lot of effort and skill to effectively and developmentally teach every guideline and help each child understand how it might fit into her individual life. It can be done, but it is a daunting task.
My advice to all of us seasoned (educational code for ‘old’) educational veterans is to do all we can to help the newer teachers gain the skills they need to be successful. We desperately need teachers right now, at least in my area. We need them to be good so the children benefit and so the goods ones stay in our profession. So help out the newbies and provide them with plenty of syrup. That stack of pancakes is huge.