I’ve been spending some time in NYC and while here I’ve been attending seminars, workshops and events related to food, nutrition and education. As a nutrition educator, I make sure I keep updated with dietary guidelines, nutrition research and teaching strategies. If I want kids to learn how to eat healthy, I need to make sure I use the best and most efficient teaching techniques to engage them.
An interesting workshop I attended was the Educator Boot Camp, hosted by Practice Makes Perfect, an organization that creates summer enrichment programs. The workshop’s focus was on Socratic Seminars, Rigorous Questioning and 100% compliance.
I acquired useful teaching strategies which can be applied to any subject, including nutrition. We learned the benefits of using Socratic Seminars in class, planning an effective Socratic Seminar discussion, planning for Rigorous Questioning. We understood the rational for having 100% compliance and acquired methods to ensure it.
I found the workshop very interesting because we also had the opportunity to practice what we were learning.
During my stay in NY I also attended events related to nutrition and food education organized by Edible Schoolyard NYC, a non-profit organization committed to changing eating habits of kids through gardening and kitchen classes integrated into the school day. They’re an important source of inspiration, motivation and teaching material for my work.
In January, they held a workshop on composting with worm bin. It was organized with the Lower East Side Ecology Center. Indoor composting needs care but I thought it was more difficult to sustain, especially in a classroom. Instead, I learned that once you know how it works, it can be very easy and fun for kids.
Recently, I also met with the Liza Engelberg, Director of Education at Edible Schoolyard New York City. She invited me to observe programming at a public school in NYC. Second-graders were learning things about strawberries, such as how to describe the various parts of the fruit and new tasting words. Eight-graders were learning how to make banana-strawberry pancakes from scratch.
The enthusiasm of the kids reminded me why I love so much teaching nutrition in school, and motivated me to go back to Italy and reach more schools and serve more kids with my programs.
I’m truly convinced that incorporating food/nutrition education into the school curriculum not only is an efficient way to instill healthy eating habits, like shown by many studies, but it’s also a fantastic educational approach that can improve academic performance and overall development of children.