America’s favorite British import since One Direction is back for another season. For a few months each year, The Great British Baking Show captures our hearts (and stomachs) and makes us think that meat pies are a good idea. While viewers might think the show is the greatest thing since sliced bread, many teachers I know sympathize with how difficult it must be for the amateur bakers to work under such a glaring spotlight each week. Here are eight ways teaching is like The Great British Baking Show.
1. Your work is evaluated by people you don’t really know.
The judges on The Great British Baking Show are entertaining, to say the least. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are hilarious, enlightening, and tough. They are both accomplished cooks whose every raised eyebrow or pursed lip send contestants into a cold sweat. Imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to present your work to such giants of the baking world.
Likewise, teachers are constantly fighting for similar respect. Day in and day out, their work is judged not just by their administration, but by parents they don’t really know, school districts with constantly changing standards, and a society that can’t make its mind up about what education should look like. It’s enough to make you want to curl up with a giant chocolate chip cookie.
2. Every project requires thinking outside the box.
Bake an entire wedding cake in a few hours? No sweat! Make a gingerbread house based on childhood memories? Sounds fun! Cook a highly complex dessert with only half the recipe? Piece of cake (or pie)! No matter the challenge, the contestants on The Great British Baking Show always need to bring their best creative thinking to the table.
Educators have to be just as creative, if not more so. I’ve seen teachers replace tabletops with white boards, write grants to help immigrant families, and administer a final exam all in the same day. If anyone can not just think outside the box, but get rid of the box altogether, it’s a teacher.
3. Each day is filled with figuring out how to mix the right ingredients into a spectacular result.
With a little flour, some eggs, brown sugar, and butter, you can bake just about anything. But to be a “star baker” you need to combine that with an insane amount of skill.
Similarly, teachers are given a wide array of ingredients: students, curricula, and material resources (although all come in a wide variety of quality). The good ones know what to add and how mix them to create truly masterful results. No butter required.
4. Double entendres abound.
I don’t care if you’re in the famous white tent working your heart out on a double-decker fudge cake or in the classroom teaching biology. Nobody wants to have to deal with a soggy bottom.
5. There’s immense pressure.
Two hours. A super difficult tart recipe. Fame and glory on the line.
180 days. 90 kids. Three standardized tests. Only 12 pencils.
Which would you choose?
6. Dealing with incomplete instructions.
Every week the bakers on The Great British Baking Show face a rigorous “technical challenge” where they must bake a perfect, sometimes obscure dish with some of the steps missing from their recipes. This often leads hilarious or disastrous results.
But teachers have even less room for error in their daily challenges. Dealing with kids day in and day out comes with no (never mind limited) guidance. That so many teachers not only help kids survive school but thrive and build strong educational foundations is no less than amazing.
7. There is a lot of hurry up and wait.
Which takes more patience: sitting on the floor next to an oven, hoping your pie finishes baking before time is up? Or sitting on the curb three hours after the bus arrives waiting for the last kid to be picked up from the field trip? I think they’d both make most grown men cry.
8. Everyone helps each other out.
Unlike most other reality shows, there’s very little backstabbing, scheming, or double-crossing on The Great British Baking Show. Rather, the contestants (and sometimes even the hosts) can be seen helping each other out through encouragement, support, and friendly advice.
Teachers are no different. They truly are some of the most selfless people you’ll ever come across, especially while on the job. Whether covering someone’s lunch duty because they have a doctor’s appointment, lending an ear after a difficult day, or pretending not to notice the secret stash of chocolate under a colleague’s desk, teachers can always be counted on to look out for each other as well as their students.