When I coached running backs, I always used the phrase “the magic is in the cutback”. The meaning is that while an offensive play was always sound on paper, and with strategic and well-practiced execution would yield a successful outcome, the magical play came when the runner took the basic play, and added talent, awareness, vision and skill to see the cutback opening and turn a solid gain into a scoring play.
This concept acts as a perfect metaphor for the relationship between a sound curriculum, well-executed instruction, and a scoring learning experience. Any coach worth his/her salt can draw a play that works on paper. The skilled coach can drill and practice the play, but the truly inspiring educator can connect with his/her players to work to infuse the athlete’s talent into the process thus making the play magical. The same holds true in the classroom.
A good teacher can take a solid curriculum and get basic, sound results. But the skilled and inspiring teacher can deliver high quality instruction to students with whom he/she is strongly connected to create the magical learning experience. There is such variety in curricular programs, and oftentimes, we allow ourselves to be romanticized by the marketing of some of them. In high quality schools, where everyone in the building is invested in achieving the mission of the school, the difference is not in the curricular options, but in the execution of instruction. A nimble thinker can take the basics, add creativity, passion, and enthusiasm to the process that is shared through a strong relationship to yield the magical, scoring, winning experience.