manage a classroom

Ideally we never want to force anyone to participate in a food education activity. The model that fosters maximum engagement is application-based, so interested folks apply and are selected to participate in an activity. Like after-school sports, eligibility for application can be based on grades, behavior, etc. The downside of this approach is it vastly limits the number of students who can participate.

Before trying to teach anything, build relationships. This can be through a game/icebreaker, or it can be through questions and conversation. We need to care about one another before we can learn from each other.

In food education, all the roles and activities and goals of an experience need to be consistently more engaging than any other possible outlet of energy at that moment. Put another way, food education must be fun to be successful. How to ensure activities are fun is a topic we’ll touch on later- the first priority is having all participants to agree to shared expectations.

1. On a chalkboard or piece of paper everyone can see, draw the outline of a fruit or veggie and explain to the group that inside the shape represents the classroom (or garden, or space where work will take place).

2. Ask participants to call out (one at a time) things they want to see inside the shape that will help the group accomplish the goal(s). For example- teamwork, good communication, safe handling of equipment, etc. If there’s any disagreement among participants, facilitate a discussion until consensus is reached.

3. Then ask for things they don’t want to see in the classroom, and write these on the outside of the circle. For example- cursing, fighting, unhealthy foods.

4. Once the list is comprehensive both inside and outside the circle, have each participant sign their initials on the board or paper. This signifies the group’s adherence and understanding of the mutual expectations each participant is held accountable to.