Food Safety & The Importance of Humor In the Classroom: Meet Zoraida, ProSafe’s FoodSafe Expert
With her sense of humor and unstoppable energy, Zoraida is one of our most cherished FoodSafe Level 1 instructors. She was born in Spain, and originally migrated to Canada 8 years ago. She is fluent in Arabic, Spanish, English, and French. Her communication abilities are exceptional (in all four languages), as she loves building relationships and collaborating with others.
Zoraida has worked with ProSafe for one year. When she isn’t instructing, she is a practicum supervisor with a healthcare college. She is passionate about teaching, and has even taught English and Spanish to refugees in Canada and Spain.
What got you involved in the FoodSafe field in the first place?
Teaching is great, in addition to FoodSafe I am actually broadening my horizons and doing my First Aid instructor training right now with the Red Cross. As for FoodSafe, the background there lies with my job. At the college I work with, I book students for FoodSafe and CPR. Because of my position, there have been many times where I have seen students fail their courses and not achieve certification.
In all of these cases, the students have had problems understanding the material, so I would have to do my best to explain everything. I did this often enough that people would say, ‘Hey Zoraida, why not become an instructor?’. The rest is history.
What is one of the most memorable teaching moments you have had?
One of the most memorable moments of teaching that I have took place not long ago, when I was teaching FoodSafe to a group at Western Community College. When the class was over, all of the students came and thanked me for how great a lesson I provided. They told me that I had made a great impact on their success during the exam.
I felt at that point that I had accomplished something special. My teaching had empowered them to get all of the information that they needed. The entire class was comprised of educational assistants, and it was overall a fantastic feeling to see everyone do well.
What would you say to anyone considering seeking a career as an instructor?
I would tell them to go for it! It is a very rewarding career, one that can really impact people’s lives. Even something that may seem as minor as FoodSafe is something that can be applied to daily life, and can even prevent others from getting sick.
Classrooms aren’t for everyone – what do you do to keep your students engaged?
I make it fun. I make lots of jokes and ask lots of questions so people have no choice but to be awake. I always make sure that questions or discussion comes up every two minutes, so all the students are always alert. Humor is a great way to keep the students engaged – keep them laughing and they could actually learn a lot.
Can you share any incidences where you or your students have used what they learned in class?
A while ago something funny happened. As part of FoodSafe Level 1, I was instructing everyone on proper hand-washing procedures. When it came to public washrooms, I always give everyone an extra tip: after drying your hands, use a paper towel to grab the door handle afterwards when you are leaving. Those handles get so dirty, there is no point even washing up if you plan on grabbing them.
During the break, as my students were leaving the classroom, every one of them grabbed a paper towel and used it to open the door! This was genuinely funny for everyone involved, and it also proved to me that the students were paying attention and learning what I was passing on to them.
What is an interesting fact about FoodSafe that not many people are aware of?
There are so many interesting facts about FoodSafe, which is part of the reason I love to teach it. What many people don’t really understand is just how easy it is to get a foodborne illness. When you make mistakes, like leaving food on the counter overnight, it is actually incredibly easy to get sick. By teaching students how essential these skills are, they really understand what they are doing in their daily lives, and pay a lot more attention to the little actions that prevent everyone from getting sick.
What Do You Like Most About Instructing at ProSafe?
Working with Colin and Dave is such a good time. I teach at all of the campuses, and I swear I they give me the red carpet treatment everywhere I go, whether I am in Surrey, Burnaby, or elsewhere. They are so easygoing, and I never feel like I am being micromanaged. One of the nicest things about ProSafe is that I always feel that management trusts the instructors to get everything done, and to teach the students well. It’s a great feeling being part of a team that trusts you to teach things your way, and has the utmost confidence that you will do a good job.