One of my favorite shows is Chopped. I love the mystery ingredients in the basket and the time crunch. I'm always fascinated by the chefs and their uncanny ability to take goat brains, red hot candies, celery, and whipped cream and make it into a five star appetizer.
Today was my second, and last, formal observation for this year. As I sat at my desk, merely minutes before my principal was to arrive, I felt kind of like one of the chefs in a Chopped episode. Here's my thinking.
Our formal observations are for a scheduled thirty minute time slot, just like the TV show. Except in our program there are no commercials. The clock starts when the principal/judge enters the classroom and at that point the show begins. The contestant, a.k.a. teacher, begins by opening her basket and announcing the mystery ingredients so the audience, and the judge (principal) knows what is in store. A throughline, some GLCEs, and a dash of common core.
Next up it's time to scurry around the kitchen (classroom) to gather ingredients and place some things into the ice cream machine (student brain) to process and check back on later in the show. Ingredients needed are gathered to make the recipe work and possibly even win some accolades from the judge (principal). Some Post-it notes here, a dash of humor there and the dish is coming along. I'm cooking now!
A quick glance at the clock reveals a lot to accomplish in the few remaining minutes. No paper cut or new-fangled ingredient is going to slow me down! The judge's face fluctuates between a smile, a nod, and a look of complete bewilderment. Is he wondering how I could possibly combine these ingredients and come out with a successful dish displayed in a beautiful plate presentation?
Suddenly, I sense something about to boil over on one side of my kitchen/classroom (a.k.a. students not engaging) and the sweat beads up on my forehead. I have to take care of that situation while still stirring and seasoning the many other pots and pans on the stove. I turn down the flame, whisper some words of encouragement, and, whew! Disaster averted!
Two minutes before the buzzer sounds, I return to the "ice cream machine" and see if it's done. Has it set up correctly? Have the flavors come together? Is it able to connect with the rest of my dish and create a cohesive plate?
As teachers, we essentially receive a "mystery basket" every year. Our ingredients are all unique. They must be combined carefully, stirred slowly, and baked at just the right temperature to create a tasty, finished recipe.
Now, I didn't have goat brains or red hot candies or whipped cream in my basket.
But I didn't get chopped today. In fact, the judge told me to get ready. I'm headed to the dessert round.