In A Reader’s Skin

SOLC 2011 22.31

Fascination with cake decorating has been brewing this past winter. Discovery of cake and cupcake decorating shows have found their way in my television viewing.

As I entered the local hobby store I noticed a flyer announcing cake decorating classes. On a whim I added my name to the beginning class. Since that day I have often asked myself, “What was I thinking?” 

First class was all about buttercream. Buttercream frosting is basic to decorating. Buttercream frosting was the focus lesson. The teacher whipped up a batch to model how it is done while the three of us watched. It looked pretty but UGH!  I  didn’t realize how much Crisco and sugar was used  for a batch…A LOT of Crisco and sugar. The thought of all Crisco ending up in stomachs made me feel a little sick. I wondered how I could change the recipe so there would be some nutritional value. We’re sent home with our assignment; whip up three batches of buttercream and bring a cake to decorate. Instructor said not to use butter. Not that butter would be better. Ah! Cream cheese. It looks like Crisco. It even feels like Crisco. Will it work? Will the instructor notice? I do know that the instructor will notice my cake for sure. I go to class with the cake still in the pan because it won’t come out. This is my second cake for this class. I have never had problems with getting a cake out of the pan. You need to get pan spray she tells me. Greasing and flouring the pans like my grandma doesn’t cut it. It works like glue instructor says. The other students turn their heads to my cake. I’m feeling vulnerable. Any similarities to any readers in our classes and what they may be feeling? 

Open your container of icing. Smooth the icing on your cake. Nervous. I watch everyone else as their frosting goes on smoothly. I try. Not smooth. The instructor comes over and gives me individual attention. I am embarrassed. It just takes practice. Why can’t I get this? Why does all the others seem to get it? Then we go to piping. Instructor looks at me and says, “Your frosting seems a little loose.”  I open my container of powdered sugar. “I’ll add some more sugar.” The conversation in the room now goes to favorite frostings. The instructor looks at me and asks, “Have you ever tried cream cheese frosting?” I shake my head yes, but not admitting that my frosting is made of cream cheese. I think of times my students have omitted information.

Truly, I’m really enjoying the class. I need to experience new learning so I can teach better. I need to put myself in my students’ reader’s skin because I know students experience the same feelings when learning something new. We just forget how difficult it can be.

I usually post a picture but not today. I’m not brave enough to show my first cake. Book connection? Let’s go with Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco.  Great book about facing our fears. Perfect book for spring storm weather!

This is Thunder Cake baking weather, all right.

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3 Responses to In A Reader’s Skin

  1. Linda Baie says:

    I chuckled through every bit but I promise, I’ve never chuckled when my students had a tough time. You did make me see again how students feel when they aren’t ‘getting it’ like others seem to be. As adults, we don’t often experience that feeling. Your description applied to our teaching very well indeed. (Did you ever get the cake out?) And-thanks for the book, again; Polacco is great. We have a book fair the next few days during conferences, so I’ll see if they have it.

  2. Tam says:

    This is so funny, Deb! I love when you don’t tell her about the cream cheese frosting!! I can see you now doing your best. It is a good lesson to find ourselves clueless although that’s how I am about everything hands on. My boys just look at me sometimes, but it’s not in me. I couldn’t even attach a swiffer to the stick they give you!!! Thunder Cake is one of my favorites, too.

  3. Colette says:

    Thunder Cake is a great book to follow your very visual description of your Cake Battles. Although this not to do with reading, it does remind me of trying to teach 1st graders to use a ruler to draw a straight line, and not give up and just draw one without the ruler!!!

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