A day spent without learning something is a day wasted. – Anonymous
Growing up I was never fond of fish. Most of my adult life I was known to order one thing … grilled shrimp. I discovered I like it, but didn’t move past that for some time. I now enjoy many types of seafood: salmon, tilapia, scallops, mussels, lobster, etc… but, I had never tried sushi. This week I joined some good friends and ventured into the world of sushi. What a wonderful learning experience!
One friend was very knowledgeable with the menu and the restaurant. She did the ordering for us. A misconception I had is that all sushi was raw. We started out with items that were cooked and moved into the raw items. As each new item would come to the table she’d describe it for us. Not only did I try every item, I ate the entire meal with chopsticks! (A bit challenging at times, but I was successful!)
The meal caused me to reflect on several things related to education as well as my past year.
- My friend was a wonderful “guide on the side” scaffolding our sushi experience. She knew to start out slow and to explicitly describe each item and how best to eat it. She modeled techniques from using chopsticks to mixing dipping sauces. I would have expected nothing less, as I know her personal teaching style with her students. During the meal we were her students, but each and everyday she uses these same techniques with her own group of 4th graders.
- Collaboration was also a key component in our experience. As my friend ordered she collaborated with our waitress, who also knew this was a new experience for some of us. The waitress offered suggestions and they turned out to be some of our favorites. Collaboration within our immediate settings is important, but I’m reminded of something Alan November recently stated when he visited our area. We must find ways to open our classroom collaboration beyond our classroom walls. For myself, I’m excited to assist a group of 5th graders as they embark into the world of blogging! I’m looking forward to the collaboration & correspondence they have with others from around the world.
- The experience reminded me of the importance of staying open to try new things, whether its personal or professional. My professional learning experiences over the last 6 months have been life-changing. I’ve always considered myself a life-long learner. I stay current in my chosen fields of leadership, literacy and technology in order to create engaging classrooms to meet the needs of all students. I have continued my education beyond a Master’s degree (and have started to eye continuing my formal education). But, in the mean time, I was beginning to feel stagnant. I missed taking classes and learning from others. Then came the world of social media. When I was first introduced to Twitter I did not understand the concept at all. Six months later, I value each and every experience. They bring a wealth of new knowledge and the added layer of global collaboration. Joining the blog-sphere as also been an eye-opening experience. I’ve been a reluctant writer in the past. Blogging has been one of the best experiences in helping me become more confident in my writing. I’ve always been quite reflective, but have enjoyed taking that to a deeper level. I am continually attuned to my experiences and how they relate to education and the world around me.
- My sushi dining experience was yet another opportunity to try foods from other cultures, but I’m reminded that this is at the surface level of being culturally competent. Twitter and blogging have helped open my eyes to our global society. I love seeing hits to my blog from other educators in other countries as well as learning from them on Twitter. A personal and deeper awareness I now have is just how much we all have in common, especially when it comes to our compassion for students and spirit of sharing! I’m remind of a handout entitled the “Cultural Iceberg” I received in a recent workshop. It is my hope that we move below the surface as educators and pass a deeper understanding and empathy for all cultures on to our students. I just downloaded a free app for my iPod Touch called World Customs and Cultures. It is a database of custom and cultural information for over 165 countries. Information is broken into easy to navigate categories. I’d be interested in hearing others thoughts on the app. Is the information correct and reliable?
Each day is a new learning experience. With my eyes open, my goals established, a wonderful PLN, and a quest to meet the needs of all students I encounter, I know 2011 is going to be a great year. And I’m looking forward to my next sushi experience. My friend, and guide, has let it be know we will be more adventurous the next time.
Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by frankartculinary: http://flickr.com/photos/franck-chilli/3079946600/