I did Xmas dinner this year. For those of you not of a British or similar origin, this involves essentially a day or so of planning and preparing a meal, followed by a day of watching that plan go slowly but surely wrong as you realise you have misjudged your timings and dinner will be an hour later than you thought. There are traditions which must be adhered to (really, mulled wine to be drunk when?), standards set by the previous year, turkey must be roasted, as must potatoes and parsnips, and everything must come out together. Hot, and not overdone.
And yes, as ever with these things, I was in the midst of it all up to my elbows in roasting, basting and all sorts of other things,and my thoughts turned to the classroom. Managing a major roast dinner for ten people (yep, that’s right, ten people for a virgin Christmas dinner chef, so not bad) is very like handling a classroom. I had a plan which goes but eventually drifts slightly clear of where you had pointed it. I had a range of interruptions and questions, challenges to the planned flow of cooking: dogs underfoot, several small children desperate to play with the carving knife, demands for mulled wine when there are no bloody hobs left for at least another ten minutes, that sort of thing, comparable to the “catch you out” left field question from the learner who hasn’t really been listening, the IWB not working, realising you have one too few handouts, that sort of thing. Then the major disturbances: the arrival of guests just at the point you need to drain the potatoes and parsnips and transfer them to the hot oily oven trays just like that bit in a lesson when you are in mid explanation, with every learner brain working through your questioning, and your manager simply has to knock on the door and ask a question which could quite happily have waited the thirty minutes left to break time. The relief at the end as it all slots into place and everyone gets something good from it.
The brain processes involved were definitely of the lesson management type, although blurred slightly by the two thirds of a bottle of wine I was carefully exploring as the day progressed, and so just as much fun. However, like a lesson, just the one is plenty and I’ll hang on for a couple of years before doing it again…
Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy new year, in case I don’t blog before then!