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Mise en place…

or, The Art of Being Prepared

Preparedness is one of those things that are taken for granted both at work and in life.  At my job, I work with women, some of whom have never had a job before.  It is eye-opening for me to see this and I have to remind myself to take a step back and go back to the basics of workplace skills.  When I say basics, I mean make-no-assumptions-basics.  It is things like bring a pen and small notebook with you and being on time means showing up 5 to 10 minutes early.
In French, there is a term that those of us that work in kitchens guide everything we do.  It is, mise en place, or “everything in its place.”  This means doing the cutting, chopping, making the various components of dishes prior to the start of kitchen service.  For my students, it is clocking in for their shift on-time, bringing a small notebook with a pen and a marker, and getting their workspace area ready.
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Mise en place for the classroom
Some women struggle with these tasks, especially coming to work on time.  It can be overwhelming for anyone in that situation, so to ease the transition and help them acquire these soft skills, I try to start small.  The expression one foot in front of the other is apt here.  One task at a time and positive reinforcement go a long way to building lifelong professional skills and good habits.
Although it is bittersweet when my students graduate, it is gratifying to see the growth each has gone through.  I remember their first day and their last.  Do you believe in the art of being prepared?  What tips do you have?
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