I am a teacher.
I’m also a runner.
I’m also a baker.
These are my passions.
As I look through the many teacher profiles on Twitter, I quickly realize that I am not alone. There are so many teachers who also run and many teachers who also bake, and plenty who do both! These are truly passions of mine. Realizing that so many other teachers share these passions made me want to delve deeper into how these interests are interrelated. What draws so many of us to these seemingly unrelated activities?
I often describe myself as a “stress baker”. When I have stressful things going on in my life baking has a very calming effect. I’m either alone in my kitchen or baking with my kids and there is something about the whole process, beginning with choosing recipes, that brings me a sense of peace. I also bring a lot of joy to those who receive my sweets, mainly my family and my colleagues. What I love about baking is that you can take a group of relatively boring, plain ingredients, such as flour, eggs, butter, etc., mix them together, put them into the oven and come out with something extraordinary. Sometimes being in the classroom feels the same way. A lesson can start off with very basic parts but given the dynamics of the group and the enthusiasm and input of the students, it can come out to be something completely fantastic. People often think of baking as a science but there are also creative components. I often take a recipe and change one or two ingredients or amounts just to see how I can create something new from that base recipe. Much like in education, where we are looking for data to drive many decisions and solid evidence to show that our students are learning but we also need to be creative in our methodology and make learning fun and interesting. Often I can take a lesson that I have done before and tweak just a few pieces and watch how it transforms into a whole new learning experience for my students. Baking and teaching are both an art and a science and you can definitely tell when the baker and/or the teacher puts love and passion into what they do.
My cupcake sliders and pound cake fries with frosting ketchup:
I am also addicted to running. Nothing allows me to clear my head like a good run. I often like to run with friends and chat . Running can be very social. I also find that I really need to run on my own and just be with my thoughts. Even though I’m not very fast I do track my miles and my times and I get a huge thrill when I’ve beaten a previous time or gone farther than I have in a while. At school, I never feel that I am competing with my colleagues. In fact it’s just the opposite because we are so collaborative and team oriented. But I do feel that I am competing with myself and in my classroom I get so excited when my students have pushed past a milestone or shown progress beyond their goals. Running is interesting because it causes me to constantly push past what my body and often my head is telling me: STOP. Anyone who gives advice such as “listen to your body” is not a runner because we are constantly telling our bodies to shut up because we believe we can do more. (Of course, if you have a serious injury or condition you really should listen to your body but just go with me on this one for purposes of explanation). As a teacher of students with special needs, I absolutely must believe that if I just keep pushing, together, my students and I can do more. Even when it all seems so frustrating and slow, I have to give pep talks to keep on going because I know that we/they can do it. This is the same pep talk I give myself while I’m running and it always works. I am always able to push myself farther or go a little faster than I had anticipated.
When I grew up, I believed my teachers slept at school and did nothing but grading and lesson planning. I think it is wonderful that these days teachers share their passions and outside interests with their students. I’ve had the pleasure of both baking and running (not at the same time) with my students. My math class cooks every other week. I have been able to share some of my favorite recipes with my students and it gives them a special little piece of my life outside of school. I also have a student on the cross country team. I have joined the team for two of their workouts and running with the students was such fun and also showed them that running is a lifelong sport and it can be as competitive as you want it to be.
What are your outside passions? Have you shared them with your students?