It has been exactly one month since my last post. That’s bad. Really bad. It means, clearly, that life (aka teaching) has taken over. But it also means that I, as usual, have let myself become ensnared in it. Let me catch you up on the trap I’ve fallen into. In the past month I have: signed a lease for an apartment, bought a new car, started working at a CPS turnaround school. Done. Trapped. But are we ever not?
Given that teaching has filled every cell of my body every minute of my day, I have done a lot of thinking around the theme. Teach for America is often condemned for sending unprepared recent college graduates into beyond challenging classrooms. Legitimate. I feel unprepared. That being said, so do some of my co-workers who have been teaching for years. Perhaps that’s because my school, being a turnaround, has an entirely new staff. Even those teachers with a couple years under their belts are new to this school. Or perhaps that’s because you’re never really one hundred percent prepared for that group of kids sitting in front of you, letting you shape their lives. I don’t know. I just don’t.
I don’t know that it’s possible to train young people for five weeks, throw them into a classroom, and expect incredible growth among their students year one. I don’t know that Teach for America expects that. I don’t know if there’s a better way to help our self-destructing education system either.
What I do know is this, no ever told me about that sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize just how far behind your students are. When you realize that you have to teach a nine year old the sound the letter “u” makes. When you realize what that means about their past education and their future dreams. No ever told me. Or they did and I just didn’t listen. Because lets be real, that reality doesn’t sink in until your classroom is filled with these kids, your students, who you are tasked with educating. It’s then that you can’t help but wonder if it’s possible to achieve what really needs to be done, not to get ahead, but to catch up. It’s then that things get real. Way too real.
All that I just sputtered out is what has kept me away from the kitchen. But no more. Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. I’m making Busy Day Cake. I have figs waiting to be broiled (and topped with ricotta and honey…). I have broccoli waiting to be sauteed. Goodbye granola bars. Hello real food.
I’d ramble on about these pancakes, just like I did about teaching, but it’s not necessary. I already know what I think about these pancakes. They’re my new favorites. Hands down. Winner.
Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Pancakes
from Joy the Baker
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for brushing the skillet
1 1/2 cup whole milk, plus additional if needed
1 ripe banana, diced or mashed
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Maple syrup, for serving
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl Whisk together yolks, oil and 1 1/2 cups milk in another bowl and add to the flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Let batter stand for 5 minutes to allow flour to absorb liquid (batter will thicken).
If batter is too thick to fall easily from a spoon, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons additional milk.
Fold in banana and walnuts.
Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. With a whisk, gently but thoroughly fold into batter.
Brush a griddle or 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate. Working in batches of 4, spoon 2 tablespoons batter per pancake into a hot skillet, spreading it if necessary to form 3- 3 1/2 inch rounds. Cook pancakes until bubbles appear on surface, edges are set and undersides are golden, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Flip pancakes with a metal spatula and cook until undersides are golden and pancakes are cooked through. Lower heat if pancakes brown too quickly and insides aren’t set. Transfer pancakes to plate and serve with maple syrup. Brush griddle with more oil between batches.