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Teaching Advice

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Didn't see a teachers forum and I am a professional Chef....so here goes.

I have been wanting to teach for a while now and have been talking to the local Community College for a while now. I was supposed to teach some continuing ed. classes this summer but work got in the way, so I had to decline. So I get my new position as Garde Manger Chef (just waiting to transfer once they find my replacement) and the culinary curriculum head calls me the other day. Says he needs an adjunct teacher for an accredited class at night. The class is basic culinary skills, 2 hours lecture, 6 hours lab work a week spread out over two days.

So my question is...anybody have words of advice? I am used to teaching young externs....but in the pressure of the real kitchen. I realize that the classroom environment is going to be way different and I will have to "tone down" so as to foster an environment of fun and learning...but I don't want to sugar coat this industry. The real kitchens are tough, thankless, soul breaking places at times and I want to keep a sense of realism in the classroom instead of these kids thinking they are going to be Emeril or Mario when they leave school. I have seen plenty of externs come into the kitchen thinking they were top dog, with no basic skills, get spit out of kitchens and quit. anybody have advice on how to "keep it real", but make it fun as well?

I appreciate your time and thought in all your responses.
post #2 of 14
The main thing is, you're hooked up with a school already--the grunt work is done.

A little over two years ago I sold my catering biz with the intention of getting into teaching. Did my homework and found out to teach accredited classes ( in this province) I needed a P.I.D. or Provincial Instructor's diploma. It was a solid f/t 2 mth course, and I passed with good marks. The hard part was finding a job. In terms of hours, benifits and salary teaching cooking is quite the cushy job, which translates into mega- competition for any opening. I had a very nice and long talk with the H of Dept. at the local C.C. who frankly admited that he liked what he saw in me and my resume, but that I would have to wait "until someone kicks the bucket" before anything became available.

To teach highschool kids I'd need a Bach of Ed, and for some of the snooty private cooking schools they required I have some kind of a University degree--the H.Of Dept. wasn't very specific about WHAT kind of a degree, perhaps Political Science( an oxymoron if I ever heard of one...) like he majored in...

Schmooze and keep those links open if you want to teach--it's the hardest part.jo
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 14
There's a culinary educators social group. Click on the Social Groups tab up top.
post #4 of 14

was a student not long ago

I graduated from culinary school about 3 years ago and I was constantly reminded by my instructors that the biz isn't easy and nothing like the food network makes it out to be. I was fully informed that for about the first 5 years I wouldn't make any money and even with my education I would still have to start at the bottom. One of my chef's even tallied up the class of about 30 and said that at least 15 of us wouldn't even be in the culinary field in the next 5 years and only 2 or 3 of us would be seriously into it by working at the top restaurants. I suggest when you teach to be honest with the kids and do your best in telling them how it really is. I appreciated it and I'm sure your students will too.
post #5 of 14
I don’t mean to butt in where I don’t belong…BUT. I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV and I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night.:lol:

I hold no degrees in the culinary field, but my husband is in Academic Administration and has worked in the Junior College system here in Alabama, Community College system in Florida and in Kansas (a long, long time ago). He has also worked at major universities. His forte is accreditation. What I know about the subject is due to long (often boring) discussions that start off with me asking the stupid question “How was your day?” And I do need to add that all of my limited knowledge is about the SACS accreditation which governs accreditation of institutions where we are, and is the most rigorous accreditation body in the US. (Proud wife rant: the recent work he has done for his current institution has led SACS to invite him to present his work at their annual convention this winter as a model of excellence.)

To teach in a SACS accredited institution the minimum requirement on the College level (associates and bachelors degrees): you need a minimum of a masters degree in your field or any masters plus 18 graduate hours in the field you are teaching in, unless you are talking about grad student teaching at universities, but they are monitored by a prof. Now, there are some ways around this in the Junior College system. They will make allowances for technical teachers to apply “life experience” in lieu of formal education: such as an engineer who doesn’t have the master’s level academic credentials but has worked for 25 years as an engineer. This is case by case and requires you to present a detailed portfolio to be evaluated by the institution. The same would be true of culinary instructors as it is considered a trade. However “life experience” can not make up all of your credentials. But you can have a degree in underwater basket weaving with a masters in music add to that the 18 hrs in aerospace engineering and you can teach aerospace tech at a community college.

Technically you can teach at a University with only the master’s requirement, but only bachelors level courses and with all of those PhD’s aiming for those jobs it is really unlikely that you will even land an adjunct position. (Adjunct being a fancy word for part time employee who is paid by the course and receives no employee benefits but must still meet the same academic requirements as full time staff.) And typically the Universities don’t like to make master’s hires unless you are talking about support staff, not instructors.

High school requires either a bachelors in education (and I think a teaching certificate) or a bachelors in any thing with a degree that is graduate but strangely isn’t a masters but some odd educational degree and a teaching certificate (this varies state to state and from one accrediting agency to another). Even if you have a masters in your field you still need those educational certificates.
In a gruesome nutshell you can teach any subject you want or are assigned to in the primary and secondary systems with a degree or degrees in education and a teacher’s copy of the book. It isn’t always the case that someone with no educational background in the subject they are teaching is the teacher, but with teacher shortages, the working conditions they are ender etc etc you often find someone with not a lot of formal training in the subject they are teaching. I haven’t spent much time learning about this because my husband doesn’t work at this level of education and there isn’t enough money in the world to make me consider the full contact sport that is teaching in a high school or middle school.

Outside of this forum, everyone I know who went to culinary school went for an associate’s degree. I know that JW and CIA (I think) offer bachelors but in my area a two year degree in the culinary field is the norm. As far as I my understanding goes, this is not enough to teach anything anywhere in an accredited capacity. You would need to complete a bachelors in anything (culinary, business, fine arts, whatever) and then appeal to life experience and your associates degree to teach at the JC level.

Accreditation is the key word in all of this. You can open your own cooking school, run classes out of your restaurant or catering kitchen and hand our certificates of completion or any made up diploma you wish. But with out accreditation your students will not qualify for federal financial aid and any respect your school is given will have to come from those with in the industry and will generally not be recognized by any other institution as formal education.

I can only imagine the differences in accreditation for schools such as JW and CIA. It doesn’t make sense that they would be identical because of their specialized nature, but then again there is a lot in academic administration that doesn’t make sense.

Any one with absolutely no formal training can teach through continuing education courses that are sponsored by many colleges and universities. They provide you with a space and handle all of the paper work, but you teach whatever you want. It is not formal education. Your students will typically be retirees and others with time and money on their hands that want to learn how to cook or paint water colors. I have taught many of these courses, predominately cake decorating.

If anyone is interested in this, the first place to start is to track down the continuing education rep at your local institution of higher education. (From an administrator’s point of view they should actually be looking for you, but some folks are lazy.) The same is true of extra-curricular programs for middle and high school students. We have local foundations all over Alabama that help organize after school programs that are either paid for by the individual students, those foundations or grant money the instructor tracked down. Since we aren’t talking accreditation you just have to convince somebody you can do it.

Now you’re wondering how all this is relevant to the original question? Okay this was more a general sharing of info for anyone who might want to try getting a teaching gig outside of the major big schools, where I am sure competition for jobs is way more competitive than at Podunk CC in Waubash, Utah (Of which I am sure there is no such place).

Here is the deal, watch how you “warn” students about the industry. Because if you end up with a high drop out rate, or have a student tell your administrator that you came across as too discouraging about their prospects, you are adjunct and have no tenure. From your administrators point of view education is a distant second to all the BS they have to do to maintain student enrollment, accreditation, and graduation rates.

I realize that as a teacher you want to be realistic with your students. You want them to learn. You want them to have fun. Your administrator wants them to have all that as well, but would rather they be paying customers.

I posed your question to my husband who has held the position of the person who hires and fires adjuncts at a community college. If your attrition rate isn’t high enough and it comes back to you “being real” with your students, you may never have another adjunct position again.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanx for all the info and advice. I really do appreciate it. Thing is, now it's all a mute point. I talked with my Exec. about me teaching a class, times and what not and he has a big problem with it. Initially he did not, but then something changed. He says I should be 100% in the position I have and "sorry, but he cannot grant this". Being told that felt like my dedication and ability to my job was being questioned and I took it hard and on the chin. But, I cannot risk jeopardizing my full time job to teach one 8hr class, no matter how much I want to do this.

Thanx anyway.
post #7 of 14
the only thing is BE REAL tell them at least 1 in 5 of them will no work in a kitchen in 5 years and unless you put your all into it you will never make it. im graduation in 3 weeks and i have worked my *** off and got a good job but i know classmates that have noting lined up and i asked them where they will be working they say" oh im just going to take some time off" thouse are the people that make moving up so much easer.

teach them life isn't fare and everything takes work....
post #8 of 14
Taught for many years in New York, high schools, adult ed, private and public. I found it both rewarding and heartbreaking. Some kids just have it in the hands some dont. Never scream or yell, consider what you think as every chef should know this, well they don't they are not chefs ,fool around yet be stern when you have to. I used to say dont worry if you make a mistake we will fix it ,then eat it. Give them confidence they will respect you, and thats half the battle.
post #9 of 14
Funny... the same goes for teachers not being part of a classroom.

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

post #10 of 14
One thing I would suggest would be to enforce school standards. Of course, this only works if you have the support of your administration.

I know of one Cordon Bleu culinary school that gives lip service to standards on paper. Students must be properly attired. They must be punctual. They must be prepared for class with completed homework and all of the required tools.

In reality, all too many students were slovenly, tardy, and unprepared for class. When culinary production for the class was done, some students "disappeared" on exteneded smoke breaks - forcing their classmates to clean up after them.

The end result was that too many of these students developed bad work habits which they took into the workplace as student externs. Students who had learned that they could get away with slovenly attire and tardiness at school found that chefs in an actual restaurant were unforgiving.

Many students loss their externships and in time, most local restaurants wouldn't take externs from this school given the overall poor attitudes and work ethic of the students.

Assuming you have the support of your administration in enforcing dress codes and punctuality, my feeling is that you do these students NO FAVORS when you let them slide for any infraction.

Students must learn to be punctual. They must learn to exercise proper hygiene and to come to class properly attired and ready to participate. Within each class they must be ready to listen, take notes as needed, and to participate in production as well as clean up.

Coddling students may earn instructors better reviews in terms of overall popularity but does nothing to actually prepare them to work in the food service industry.
post #11 of 14
Think about the fact that the private sector school is a profit making business The students are paying big bucks. If you are to strict and they quit or you expell them, there wont be any profit. Therefore no more school. Some schools give the students brochures that list their requirements, but once the money is paid, the requirements seem to be secondary. In a lot of cases the individual instructor is not backed by administration, if this be the case, then its almost a losing uphill battle. :confused:
post #12 of 14
You hit the nail right on the head. That's a huge problem with some private sector schools. This is not to say that ALL private sector schools are like this. From what I've heard, such behavior would not be tolerated at Johnson and Wales or the Culinary Institute of America.
post #13 of 14
Both of those schools are categorized non-profit.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #14 of 14
Whoops, I stand corrected. Thank you.
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