Thursday, December 12, 2013

Striking the Balance Between Choice and Excellence

Pizzaiolo pies by Brett L., on Flickr

A few nights ago, I went to a renowned pizzeria in San Francisco. Scoring some of the highest reviews on YELP in the city, I was eager for the experience. However, when my waitress handed me a menu, it only had 5 items on it. That's it.

Now, if you know New York pizzerias, they have just about anything and everything on the menu. Pierogies, mozzarella sticks, hoagies, hot dogs, and pizza (of course) are littered across multi-page leaflets.

In short, I was stunned and a little bit indignant. How could this place possibly meet my needs with only 5 options?

Then, I noticed a sign above the door. It said, "Simplicity breeds excellence." Considering it, I ordered a magherita pizza and waited.

Sure enough, the pizza was some of the most delicious pizza I had ever tasted. The ingredients were fresh (as such a small menu didn't require them to save items very long) and the combination of flavors was perfect. The chef had clearly taken the time to perfect his recipe on a few dishes.

On my walk home, I realized that the evening had taught me quite a bit about my teaching. Perfecting a few tried and true strategies (such as providing timely and specific feedback) can go along way towards achieving great results with students. Sure, variety and flair can serve you well from time to time. However, as the old saying goes, "a jack of all trades is a master of none."

Over the next few months, I'm going to commit to focusing on a few core competencies and making them excellent. That might require some tough decisions and fewer options, but I think (given how good the pizza was) that the results will be worth it!

Photo Credit:
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Brett L. 


  1. Jacqueline ShlecterDecember 12, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Great post. Side note: in Philadelphia, one of the best pizza places I've tried (which is saying a lot since I now live in New York!) is called Lorenzo's. They serve nothing but whole cheese pizzas. That's it. Just one item.

    I agree that there is a ton of value, especially from an educational perspective, of truly mastering just a few things (at least at one time). Now I'm hungry, haha, thanks!

    Jackie Shlecter

  2. Sounds great! Can't wait to try that out. ;-0 Thanks for reading, Jackie!



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