Updated: Dec 27, 2019
Be brave enough to start conversations that matter.
I'll never forget the conversations I had with my grandmother growing up. They were funny, fulfilling, reflective and meaningful. She always had a way of taking a simple conversation and ending it with you walking away still thinking about it and then coming back for some more. The conversations we had were simply put, REAL.
Today, conversations are layered with the influence of social media, iPhones, emojis, and lack of personal connections. If you don't agree, go sit at a restaurant one day and observe the environment around you. You'll find people texting each other at the table or kids on their phones playing games, watching movies, taking selfies or better yet, pictures of what they are about to eat aka #CameraEatsFirst.
Interesting enough, you'll also find that these texts or posts are driving the "conversation" at the table with people counting the number of "likes" they're receiving on their latest post, or laughing at the table NOT with the people sitting there but with those on their phone instead.
Ever seen Simon Sinek's video?
Now don't get me wrong. I'll be the first to admit that I check reviews or am influenced myself with a posting of a friend who swears on a mouth-watery dish and posts a picture of this beautifully displayed masterpiece captioned with "OMG! You all have got to try this dish at xyz restaurant!"
But, I think about our kids. I think about my own and wonder will the craft of conversation be lost with his generation and all the goodness that comes with having REAL conversations?
And I know that I can't really control the conversations that happen outside of the classroom; but I can control most conversations that I have within the four walls and encourage students to dabble in it and explore.
In fact, at this time of year, kiddos are returning from their holiday break, ready to share their tell-all stories of where they went, what they did, favorite dishes served during their holiday festivities, specific decor that filled their homes and so forth. Do we welcome them back by giving them a phone and say, "Hey text that to me" ? Or do we actually carve out time to just have REAL conversations? No handouts. No standards. Nada. Just a "let me hear what you have to say" conversation.
We know the importance of conversations and the impact that they have on our students. We even know that if we really want to get to know our students, all we have to do is talk with them.
Now, let's shift for a minute and acknowledge what your students will more than likely talk about. They will more than likely talk about their family traditions (or lack of) and being keen to the details they provide is crucial to what I'm about to share with you in a bit.
Fact: Every family is different and have their own set of traditions.
As for me and my family- we keep things rather simple and truth be told, I've come to appreciate simplicity as I've gotten older. You see, in my family, we have ONE tradition- to please the Baking Gods and bake away as Martha Stewart would.
You name it, we bake it! We bake all types of breads, pastries, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, candies, and anything else that we’ve come across on the Food Network or Instagram deemed worthy.
This family tradition is something that has been around for years and is a tradition that entails an all-nighter of nonstop baking, laughing, and at the center of it all, the best of conversations. The sweetest part of this tradition is that we don't even keep the sweets. We create platters or arrangements and simply pay it forward.
So every year, as I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to relish in my students' enlightening conversations about their holiday break, I'll jump in and ask if I could share as well. And in the words of Emeril- BAM! I deliver the best storytelling version of "The Night of the Baking Extravaganza" highlighted with the most amazing voice animation and excitement.
I'm not going to lie- I'm usually given a look by many students of, "Really? That's what you consider the most exciting thing you did over the holiday break?"; but the intent of sharing this story with them is to drive, yea, you got it-CONVERSATIONS.
Sure we can tie in the "academic" minimal standards to this baking extravaganza by developing recipe books, discussing the history of baking, researching cupcake masters and reading about their niche in the industry, tying in math and science on every level, building text sets around the concept of all things dealing with baking, and connecting with real bakers locally and online. Sounds fun right? It is!
But who's to say that we can't take this simple concept of this baking extravaganza and pay it forward on a grander scale that deals with impacting the baking world AND people without actually baking while still having conversations?
Okay, stay with me here and let's think about this for a second.
Have you ever looked at a Betty Crocker cake mix box? Like really looked at it? Go ahead, take a look.
Notice anything about this particular Betty Crocker cake mix box? You'll probably notice visuals, the organizational structure of the wording, the strategic layout, specific fonts, selected colors, and multiple languages (in this case English and Spanish).
Personally, I never really took the time to observe a box other than checking out the flavor on the front and making sure I was setting the oven at the right temperature to avoid being "the one who burned the cake".
However, one day in the middle of aisle nine, the inquisitive mind of a young boy whom I shall call my son, noticed that the box of super moist yellow cake mix had directions in both English and Spanish and asked me "Why?"
Baffled, I did what any other mother who happened to be an educator would do- I asked him, “Why not?” But truthfully, I was curious myself and started scoping out all the boxes in the aisle only to find that no other brand had both languages.
So what if we took this topic and pitched it out for conversation with our kids? What if we started bouncing ideas back and forth with our students on ways we could help businesses and people in general understand the importance of making things more relatable and accessible to everyone.
What if we sat by a dyslexic student and had conversations about ways in which reading the directions on this box could be supported with some form of audio?
What if we sat next to the students whose languages weren't even included on the box and discussed platforms to house the possibilities in doing so?
What if students started looking at their own self-created recipe books and began having discussions on how they could adapt their versions to being more inclusive and relatable to their peers?
What if you have a student who after these types of conversations, looks around the classroom and starts wondering if maybe we, ourselves, need to adapt our own classroom to honor every voice that deserves to be represented and wants to have that conversation with YOU?
What if we simply have conversations?
As Paulo Freire would say,
So coming full circle to conversations, traditions and kids- here's to the New Year! May it be filled with "sweet" conversations that are fulfilling, reflective, meaningful, and have you and your kiddos coming back for some more.
Until next time, remember to keep on inspiring and be inspired.
Your #1 fan,
Food For Thought
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