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Do you use a recipe or do you let your senses, intuition and previous experience guide you when you cook? Do you closely follow directions when assembling a piece of furniture or model? Are you willing to experiment with the “known” – the instructions provided?

When I first became a teacher I was surprised to learn that the teacher editions of all textbooks/curriculum provided the words to say when giving each and every lesson. They are the recipes for teaching – the precise recipes. That’s nice to have, I suppose, but what it fails to take into account is the dialogue and conversation that is essential to learning. If we stick too closely to the scripted directions of lessons, we can miss the very thing that makes learning so worthwhile.

Learning is a dynamic process. The dialogue between teachers and students is nothing short of eye-opening and inspiring. The conversation goes well beyond the directions and instructions, instead pushing us each to learn and grow in many different directions. There is not one best recipe for learning or teaching. There are millions. The first is to be who you are each every day and to recognize the children in your schools and classrooms for who they are. It is by being willing to put aside the mandated conversations and instructions that we grow as learners and yearn for more. Great cooks know that recipes are meant to be adjusted. The same can be said for great schools. Learning is an ever-evolving recipe based on the essential ingredients the students bring each day.