The Dirty Little Secrets: The Trouble with Lesson Planning
I absolutely love working with new teachers because they are enthusiastic, head strong, and new! They are a much needed breath of fresh air each school year. At the beginning of the year they have all of these neat ideas about how they are going to decorate their rooms and most of the time their classrooms are the most attractive classrooms in the building. After the excitement of decorating their classrooms and buying all the cute little baskets for their classrooms has been taken care of, it’s now time to write lesson plans! I have seen new teachers write booklets for lesson plans because their professors never told them that lesson plans are just that, a plan.
I have never met a teacher who loved lesson planning because school districts have made it so time consuming that it has become a royal pain in the you know what. I am most certainly one of those teachers that do not like writing lesson plans. It’s not that I don’t want to write lesson plans but many administrators act as if lesson plans are some kind of magic pill and if they aren’t done instruction automatically ceases. Truth be told my lesson plan could be written on a napkin and turned in. Lesson plans are just that they are a plan. They are actions and activities that the teacher plans on doing with the students.
When I taught in Louisiana I thought it was interesting how they would want to write you up because your lesson plans were not turned in on time. Don’t get me wrong I know that writing lesson plans is my responsibility but I’ve been teaching for 15 years and for me lesson plans are a formality. What happens in the classroom is really what matters to me. When I was a Master Teacher I never pulled a teacher’s lesson plan because I believed that I could go into a classroom and immediately tell whether or not a teacher planned the lesson or is flying by the seat of their pants. I used to love it when I heard administrators tell teachers who were struggling with classroom management that “Classroom management begins with a good lesson plan.” I hate to say it but that’s the biggest lie that I have ever heard.
Every year I notice that the emphasis on lesson plans becomes greater because the administrators are younger or may have never been a classroom teacher at all. This is a silent issue with teachers because we don’t have time to prep for the activities that we are going to actually do with the students because we are so busy writing these elaborate lesson plans that many teachers don’t look at anyway. My co-workers are always amazed at how my classroom works and I take everything in stride. When I write my lesson plans I only write what is necessary, which is the modeling, practice, collaboration, and the differentiation piece. The rest of the lesson plan is in the classroom.
If I am supposed to be an “effective” teacher how can I be effective if writing lesson plans takes 3 hours? I think many administrators should re-think the value that they place on lesson plans because I have seen good teachers with horrible lesson plans and horrible teachers with stellar lesson plans.