I’m not one to brag, but many have said my chili is pretty spectacular. It’s one of the very few dishes I’m good at making. Demand is high so I always make a huge pot. My children devour the pot over a few days; they have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can’t eat enough of it. My dad says “Don’t come over unless you bring a pot of your chili.” It’s a high stakes chili. I don’t want to mess it up.

Some say, “Put turkey meat in instead of beef and pork.” “No way.” I reply. “Don’t want to risk it.”

I’ve been told “Chick peas or lentils are a nice substitute to kidney beans.” I consider the reactions of my chili fans. “What were you thinking?!? Lentils? Let’s go get Subway, I’m not eating this.”

Superstore was out of regular kidney beans, so I had to put white kidney beans in. I was anxious. It was a different colour. Do they taste different? I didn’t know. I held my breath when my son took his first mouthful…he gave me a thumbs up. Whew…Safe.

Now let’s compare this to teaching. I am very adventurous in the classroom. I’m a risk-taker. I can quickly improvise if new teaching ideas go sideways. I add new technology, try it out and adjust as time goes on. I try new material, get feedback and make adjustments.

Is making a chili higher stakes than instructing in a classroom of adult learners? Certainly not. But I can understand the anxiety some instructors have when making changes to their teaching or lesson.

Instructors can be as anxious about change in their classrooms as I am about my chili.

I’ve been able to make small changes, such as 40% beef and 60% pork, or vice versa; add the chili powder to the meat before adding any other ingredients. These changes have proven very successful, but were very subtle.

These types of changes are possible even with the very conservative instructor. Add an optional online remedial quiz that students can take if they feel they need it. Students, like myself, love them. Seeing the success in that, instructors can move on to mandatory quizzes.

It’s a small step, and I understand the anxiety and reluctance to take that step. But I know there are some incredible chilis out there, chilis that use turkey, or (dare I say it) vegetarian. I’m not at that point yet, but I will slowly make changes while keeping my traditional recipe always on the reserve and building on the techniques used in making that tried-and-true chili that has been a hit.





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