There was a man that had only ever had one type of coffee in his life- straight black.
His wife was the opposite- she constantly tried new flavors and was always inviting her husband to try something new. Time after time, he responded: "I know what I like."
Finally, he agreed to go with his wife to a coffee shop that boasted it was the "shop of a thousand coffees." Upon entering, the man looked at the menu board that had seemingly limitless choices: mochas and lattes and espressos; drinks named after candy bars, and drinks that had varying levels of sugar and types of milk. There were cold options and hot options. There were different blends with exotic names. Added to all this was the sensory overload of so much coffee smell, and so many different mixes of smells.
The man was overwhelmed.
Sensing this, the wife asked, "Is it too much?"
"There are so many choices, where do I start?" he replied.
"Well," she said, smiling, "What types of flavors do you like in general- sweet or bitter, do you like caramel or do you like cinnamon or both?"
Through a series of questions, she helped her husband find a type of flavor he might like, then pointed him to a section of the board that had not a thousand choices, but five. He thought for a minute, and then made a choice.
Turns out, he likes lattes with cinnamon and whipped cream.
Moral: As teachers, we are told we need to offer students choices, to get them to seek variety. But we must use caution to not overload with too many choices, for this can be paralyzing. When students seem overwhelmed, we need to limit the choices, direct the choices, to a more manageable number. Do not give them thirteen choices, give them three. If they struggle with five choices, walk them through making the decision. This skill will aid them throughout their life.
And help them be willing to try new things.