A Taste of Inspiration
A teacher creating effective lesson plans is like an executive chef at a four-star restaurant preparing the perfect dish.
by Steven Kushner
New contributor to the Gazette
January 1, 2009
A teacher creating the “ideal” lesson plan is like an executive chef at a four-star restaurant preparing the perfect dish with a dash of creativity, a pinch of critical thinking, a cup of group discussion, all topped off with a splash of passion sitting on top of a bed of savory hidden curriculum.
Our dish is our own creation, not too bold, not too simple, yet still containing all the key ingredients for our customers to enjoy. And while our customers can be critical, expressing a taste of disgust when our dishes are not prepared correctly, they can also be amazingly appreciative, wanting to come back for more.
What sets apart a chef’s main course from a teacher’s daily lesson however, is that the latter has the possibility to inspire and challenge its recipients, spark countless imaginations, generate a chain-reaction of altruistic acts in the community, and lead to greater self-actualization. Now don’t get me wrong, the garlic beef stir-fry at the local eatery can be quite heavenly, but its impact on the world will most likely not manifest itself past the hostesses at the front door.
Like any skilled chef seeking out the freshest and most unique ingredients for their dish, a good teacher will seek out the best and most innovative resources for their daily lessons. The pinnacle question for any teacher to consider, particularly for young aspiring ones, is what are the “best” activities and exercises to ensure a successful lesson? Furthermore, where do we seek out these resources and how do we apply them toward our specific discipline?
Unfortunately for us, there are no recognized teacher lesson plan stores with stacked shelves of “thought provoking” activities or coupons in our Sunday newspaper to “buy 1 brain teaser, get the second one free.” Teachers instead have taken on the role of hunter-gatherer – and they have become so proficient at this status that our ancestral relatives would be quite impressed.
An educator’s professional slogan has certainly become: borrow, steal and modify. But this primitive and somewhat simplistic perspective of teachers does not do them any justice. While their rummaging techniques may be unorthodox and it may take a prolonged period of time to create those all-inspiring assignments, they also have the ability to do all-inspiring things: teachers can motivate when students are unmotivated, stress impartiality when students are partial, and push tolerance when students are intolerant. These are undertakings that would make a considerable impression on even the most experienced “iron chefs.”
Steven Kushner, age 25, teaches psychology and sociology at Bremen High School in Midlothian, Illinois. Steven has his Bachelor of Science degree in History and Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his Master of Arts in Teaching degree from National-Louis University and is currently working on a Master’s degree in Psychology. Steven is the Varsity Head Coach for the Bremen Braves boy’s tennis team.
Steven’s inspiration for learning, teaching, and writing originates with his family; his father is a Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University and both of his parents are published authors. Steven’s passion to advance his skills in the field of education shows through his formal graduate studies and through less conventional approaches, attending The Second City Improvisation for Creative Pedagogy teacher workshop in Chicago.