This past Saturday evening was an experience. I had never volunteered for an event quite like it and I certainly had never done what was being asked of us…waiting a table.
Feast of the Fields is an annual event that serves as a culinary experience with local flavor and provides a dash of agricultural education. They were searching for volunteers and I couldn’t resist the opportunity. The task, waiting tables and serving patrons a full four-course meal.
As said earlier I never served as a waiter in a restaurant, but I was eager to learn! During our brief training primer the summation of good table waiting was described in a simple phrase: Start Right, Finish Left.
When we brought out plates we would place them down using our right-hand from the right side of the patron. Anytime we came to fill waters, it was to be done on their right side, again using our right-hand to collect the glasses. As plates became cleared at a table we would collect silverware doing so from the left side, this time using our left-hand.
Though it might seem as a small, unimportant gesture in being purposeful of which hand to use when serving on which side, but this simple action did one powerful thing: it kept the focus of our serving on the patron before us. By serving with my right-hand on the right side it kept my body open towards the one I served, never turning my back to them.
This allowed me to quickly engage with patrons with a smile if they turned to thank me and I could also ensure they felt welcomed to converse with me about their needs. Again this climate was established by a simple act of being aware to which hand I served from and on which side of the patron.
As I look at my teaching a few lessons from this experience became startling clear:
- Simple Acts Do Make A Difference- That smile and quick welcome you gave to the student as they entered the room does make a difference! Picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk leading up to the school when no one is looking, does make a difference!
- Be Aware, Be Present- As a teacher we need to be attuned to the climate of our classroom. Not just in the physical sense, but also emotionally and intellectually. Students can tell when we are just going through the motions; we must be willing to engage our full spirit in the art of teaching.
- Keep the Focus on Them- Distractions are abundant, but let those not prevent us from putting first things first while in the classroom and that is the students before us. While, they are engaged in independent practice, let’s not spend our time just getting caught up in shooting off an e-mail or grading papers. Let’s take the time to cruise around the room, checking work for understanding. Students appreciate this and are in most cases more than eager to engage with you in a question on the material they are grappling with.
Hope that everyone is having a wonderful start to their year, we wrapped up a great first full week of school and are geared up for a new one starting today! Remember while in our classrooms: Start Right, Finish Left!