Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lesson planning

Where do they come from?  Thin air?  Stolen from others?  My brain?  ...or... Definitely not my brain!

Some teachers spend a lot of time looking for great ideas.  They scour the internet.  They might wear out Pinterest or spend a fortune on Teachers Pay Teachers.  The tough thing about a Google search is the sheer number of choices you will see.  If you ask Google, "How can my students publish online," you'll see 89 million results.  The top four results are Top Ten Lists for publishing, or tools for publishing, or sites to visit for publishing.  Too many choices.  If only there were an expert on campus to tell me the best way for students to publish their work using a tool that is easy to use.

They love when a new teacher joins the team and brings in fresh ideas.  They love getting their hands on a new resource that offers ideas that are arranged in an organized manner.  Moreso, teachers love finding a resource that actually seems to help teach the concept that needs to be learned.

Now that I am once again a new teacher, I see a major dilemma.  I am stuck between two competing needs.  I need to provide learning opportunities that engage students and help them master the learning objective.  I also need lesson plans for each subject, every day, that cover the units of study.  These two things are both important.  They are also much more difficult that I imagined.

For every unit of study, there is absolutely not enough time to deconstruct every learning objective in order to define what the student really needs to know, determine how students will show mastery, and plan for differentiation for struggling students and advanced students.  As a principal, I would constantly say that we couldn't do it all in one meeting, but over the course of several meetings, months, and even years, we would get better and better.  As a teacher, I want to do it right, right now, and there isn't time.

So instead, I must find things to fill my lesson plans on a daily basis.  I recently spoke with a former co-worker from another place who now also happens to work in my new district.  She is also having a few struggles with the new-ness, but she offered me some wisdom that I needed to hear.  She set a goal to teach two strong lessons in each content area each week.  Brilliant!  Rather than lament the impossibility of making every single lesson a masterpiece, I need to give myself some grace and shoot for two!

As a principal, I underestimated the amount of time necessary for quality collaborative planning.  If you want a true PLC culture, make sure teams have time to address the first two questions adequately.  Before the first day of school, give teams time to get their first units planned out solidly.  Otherwise, the year begins in survival mode.

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