This year has been interesting one for me personally in my career as I stepped out of the instructors roles and on an interim basis took on the Academic Chair Role for the Baking and Pastry Arts program. This was a great opportunity for myself, but was also a perfect storm of unforeseen challenges, as our school opened a new facility and our main campus is undergoing a massive renovation. Throw in a few floods, an early maternity leave and having to hire my replacement made for stressful year! Luckily, I am a pastry chef!
That being said, it was very interesting to be involved with the larger picture of our program and its outcomes, being an instructor you focus on your course content, but do not have the time always to consider the other learning that is delivered. It also gave me the opportunity to become more connected with industry and other schools here at SAIT.
I will be returning to instructing in the Fall, I have mixed emotions, but I love teaching and do feel like I have a lot to learn and a lot to give to my students still. Maybe in a few years, a chance to again step into an academic chair role will be become available, at least I know exactly what I would be getting into!
I have always have set goals and projects for myself, semester to semester as well as year to year. Next Fall, I will strive to complete the capstone for PIDP, looking forward to the final project! I will also be leading a study tour next year to San Francisco, and will be attending Chair Academy in the Spring.
Another conference I look forward to is a grass-roots effort of all the Baking and Pastry programs in Western Canada. We initiated the idea three years ago at a gathering at SAIT, where we discussed the possibility of getting together and self presenting, either in our area of expertise or an educational perspective. This would be free of charge, so it is very inclusive and provides an excellent opportunity for focused professional development. Being able to share best practices and discuss with other instructors who teach the same thing is so valuable compared to other generic education conferences I have attended in the past.
As far as pursuing more formal education in the future, I would like to consider something in perhaps food science or nutrition. I really have a passion for trying to make healthier food; breads and desserts are not always seen in a great light! Making more connections with local farmers and getting grain directly from them to mill at our school would be a dream. I may choose to pursue a masters degree as well, but I need to investigate what options are available so I can find something that I am truly passionate about.