Archive | September, 2012

Teaching and learning

4 Sep

I used to think it was funny when a prospective student asked if my classes were anything like “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Then I started getting the question more often, sometimes couched in different terms, but underneath lurked the issues: Are the classes stressful? Will there be yelling and cursing? Will everything be timed? Will I be judged?

Photo by Olaf Growald

Maybe it’s because I’ve taught in training programs designed for professionals, maybe because these entertainment shows are billed as “reality,” or maybe it’s just a fear of the unknown, but I have come to understand that it’s a valid question and deserves serious consideration.

Short answer: No.

No yelling, cursing, judging, grading or timing (except the oven timers) in my classes.

Because those things don’t encourage a positive environment where learning can flourish. I don’t succeed as a teacher until you succeed. And that’s what motivates me to teach.

I offer classes because I love to teach baking and cooking, and l love to learn. I learn from my students, and I learn from the act of teaching. My goal is to alleviate the stress of learning new techniques, not cause it.

It’s something I’ve been doing for almost 10 years, in diverse classrooms that have ranged from purely fun and entertaining demonstrations to serious professional hands-on training and everything in between.

If you’d like to read more about our classes, please check out our website by clicking here:

I have learned that it’s possible to have a rewarding learning situation and to have fun. That’s what I foster in every class, no matter where I teach it.

While I do my best to deliver a message that is meaningful and appropriate for my audience, I don’t really change much how I teach. I ask questions, I listen, I ask for your questions, I talk about the subject matter at hand, I demonstrate, I watch and, when I can, I do whatever you’re doing, right along with you, and work at your pace.

I started teaching classes here at the bakery almost a year ago, after about six months of planning and then preparing the work space, because even though I had been teaching at a number of venues, I was asked often about offering classes that were techniques-driven, “more serious” than some, “less serious” than others, short (one or two days at most) and, probably most important, hands-on and small.

The last was easiest: our kitchen is small, so it won’t accommodate more than eight students at a time. But some classes I limit even further, to four or six, depending on the subject matter and the equipment requirements. All in order to ensure the best experience for you, the student, with as much attention as you need.

Most of the classes are scheduled for three hours, and I try to allow some leeway built in — just in case a student has more questions, or someone would like a bit more practice. But I also ask that you give yourself a little extra time before and after, so you don’t have to be rushed to get to class or in a hurry to leave to make your next appointment.

My success comes only with your success, so I work hard to make sure that each student gets what he or she needs from the class. But I’m no mind reader: Be sure to convey your expectations at the outset, so we can work together to achieve your learning goals.

If you’re ready to start baking or cooking, want to brush up on your skills or challenge yourself with an advanced technique, take a look at our fall schedule of classes by clicking here.

Class preview and open house, with demos and samples, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 8. Free, but RSVP by clicking here.