Graceful is how I would like to appear when administration drops in my classroom to observe how things are going. It’s not always the case. Sometimes the classes are a work day with students sitting silently at their desks and other days it’s a fully hands on lab with students in multiple spaces. The most recent event involved the latter. The lesson for the day was a Bring Your Own Meat lab. Students were to learn the different muscles in different cuts of meat. To prepare for the lesson I spent some of my lunch period starting up the grills and cooking a test steak. This helped me determine if I would need to divide the class up into two groups or three. My test steak got finished just as the end of lunch bell rang. There was one class period between lunch and the class that was conducting the Bring Your Own Meat lab. The grills stayed about as hot as they needed by the time class started and the lab was about to begin. To start the class I was in a bit of a hurry because some students brought in some meat from chicken and game species so they would have to be grilled second to avoid cross contamination. The class is co-taught so it was divided that one teacher was in the classroom going over a worksheet that students researched different cuts of meat and the other teacher (me) was out at the grill helping students grill meat. As I explained to the students the goals of the lesson and the worksheet administration walked in the door for the observation. At that moment, all of the brain synapses fire for what a perfect lesson looks like. I make sure I’m smiling well organized and tell students exactly what is going on. Just to double up on the checklist now streaming through my head. With the grills at the peak of their heat and a ticking clock for cook times. That was the first mistake. I was a bit rushed. After explaining the worksheet as lightning speed I needed to get about half of the students out to the grills to start their cooking. Not all of the students remembered to bring meat but some students brought in multiple cuts and quickly became friends without meat. The alternative for students who didn’t bring meat would be to cook some patties created from brat meat. Some students claimed to be experts at grilling while others it was their first time with tongs in their hands and hot charcoal at the ready. I divided the class up in half, starting with the students that brought beef. I had a meat thermometer for students to check the cooking temperature of the meat. When students thought their meat was ready I helped them check their meat temp with the meat thermometer. As the meat cuts finished students swapped with the counterparts in the classroom to get their worksheet done. Students in the classroom had questions answered by the co-teacher in the room. The meat that was on the grill right away cooked quickly. But as the class went on any meat added to the grills took longer and longer to cook. The problem with students bringing in chicken was that the chicken breast was the thickest cut of meat any student had and it had to be cooked to he highest temperature when the coals were cooling down. In the end only two students had to stay late to finish up cooking their meat. Other than the student that was cooking chicken another student who brought venison burger was also at the grill. The thickness of the burger made the cooking time go long.
Throughout the lesson I tried to maintain my grace as my knuckle hair was singed off as I helped students while they were being questioned about today’s lesson from my observer.
The great thing from the lesson is that the students got a real world connection to the unit. The students were allowed to have some fun during school, and many commented that more lessons need to be designed this way.