This blog is all about my experience as a Food and Hospitality teacher at Opotiki College throughout 2013.  Over the year I will document the successes and failures as I share about a  variety of learning environments and experiences with my students.  It is my belief that high quality learning is supported strongly by authentic opportunities and that a key feature of our learning environment/s in 2013 will center around authenticity.

I met, for the first time today, with all senior classes 2x year 11 (level 1) 2 x year 12 (level 2) and 2 x year 13 (level 3).  They are a mixed bunch of students who, when asked today  why they wanted to take this food class, had a variety of answers.  Some said that they were wanting to pursue a career in food and hospitality, some loved our new food room and wanted to work in it, some actually said they liked me as a teacher (like whats with that ??), others wanted to develop specific cookery skills and one student had no real idea why he was  there at all.  My challenge in 2013 is to identify the key-individual-passions and learning drivers of my students and totally exploit that avenue of learning potential.

One thing that I know about my students is that they are all very different.  Their motivation and reasons for pursuing learning in the food context is individual and often very personal. Some of the students that have become attached to me as a teacher are students that I have formed caring, trusting quality  relationships with over previous years.  I also believe that healthy-quality relationships are also a key to quality learning.  At the other extreme of this there are students who are not particularly well known to me but are there because they want to learn a skill or acquire knowledge or who seek particular experiences in our learning area.

As well as the differences that I have already talked about ‘academic ability’ is also a major factor.  This also serves to effectively create a huge diversity within these classes.  Some people question the likelihood of providing quality learning outcomes for all students with such mixed ability and while I have given some thought to this issue I seem to enjoy the fact that this diversity exists because it adds challenge and encourages creative thinking. This also leads me to a final point and that is that all students bring value to our learning environment.  The less academic gum-boot-toting hunter can teach the completely tech-savvy geek and vice versa.

I want to document my belief that ‘authenticity’ is the key to not only quality learning but how it also enables and empowers a learning environment.  My final thought tonight is that while I am considered to be, labelled as, employed as and paid to be a teacher, I take great delight in being a learner alongside my students.  Quite simply there’s lots of things I don’t know and often the least likely of students has the required knowledge.

So what are we going to do this year?  I will let you know in the next blog!!

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