Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lesson Plans

On this first day of 2012, a time when people re-evaluate their goals and purpose, I am thinking about the issue of lesson plans. When friends ask me about the profession of teaching, they are often surprised to hear how much autonomy teachers have and how little guidance new teachers receive when beginning a new job. That's always bothered me, too.

The idea that teachers are hired, given a schedule of classes, maybe a list of books, a few guidelines on exit goals, a convoluted copy of the curriculum, and a couple weeks to plan, is quite frankly absurd. Some schools are better than others in preparing teachers for stepping into the classroom. But for most the pattern - and lack of any real guidance in lesson planning and expectations - is serious shortcoming for the profession. Of course, many teachers I know would resist such talk out of fear they would be forced to incorporate canned lesson plans purchased by their principals and school boards. And I support that sentiment. For I have rarely run across mass-produced lesson plans that have any value for me in the classroom.

Still, the lack of guidance most new hires receive in lesson planning is problematic. And at times, I am not sure the gift of autonomy is the best approach.

Blasphemous as that may sound.


mrelliott said...

Ill prepared teachers are just another sign of inadequate schools of education in our universities, and administrators who fail to mentor and guide new teachers.

Lesson planning was never an issue in my experience because it is one thing I've enjoyed about the teaching process. The thing that got me was the lack of time. I've taught no less than three preparations my entire career, and usually had no more than a day or two in my classroom to prepare lessons at the beginning of the school year. Your entry says two weeks, but that time is significantly reduced because of teacher in services, where attendance is required. At least this has been my experience.

What I usually found is I focused on one class, prepared really good lessons for it, then threw something together in the time remaining for the other two. The next year I would focus on a different class, so I had this rotation going. It worked, but I never felt the lessons were as good as they could have been because of insufficient time.

This has really come home to me now that I have transitioned into college level teaching. I still have three preparations, but my classes don't meet everyday, and there are big blocks of time in between the classes for me to use in preparation. Really makes a difference.

I've always wondered how the effectiveness of teachers would change if they were given the TIME to really do their job well.

mazenko said...

Agreed, Mr. Elliott. I've always been an effective planner, though time is certainly a problem. My current school begins the year with four days of inservice, and a reasonable time is allotted for planning. However, the late hires to many districts have little opportunity to effectively "plan a year."

Lesson Plans For Teachers said...

A valuable lesson plan is a road map for a teacher to follow as she goes over the day's lesson with her class. Those lesson plan makes use of visual aids, help students narrow research topics. Thanks a lot.