As a teacher I have often wondered if the routine task of making lesson plans is redundant or essential. What do the other teachers from the U.S. have to say on that? Here’s what I gathered after talking to them.
Lesson Plans: The Not-so-Good
Many feel that lesson plans don’t have any quantitative outcome. A veteran teacher I once met at a conference told me that teachers should step into class with an open mind that is ready for discussion. Relying on pre-made notes and lesson plans is a bad habit. According to her, free-minded teaching is an art.
The typical habit of preparing lesson plans on Sunday evenings seems to have never worked for many a teacher. Though it involves meticulous planning and intensive research, somehow, lesson plans have failed for many teachers who have walked into the classroom with a set list of points and have been unable to effectively answer students’ questions.
However, many teachers agree that self-made lesson plans are more helpful than the ready-made lesson plans available online, if at all we choose to adopt them. The online resources have a broader perspective that cannot be applied to a variety of talent and intellect present in the classroom.
Lesson Plans: A Necessity
Here’s what teachers who swear by lesson plans have to say. Janice, a friend of mine and a teacher for 30 years, says she has walked into the classroom without a lesson plan almost a dozen times in the beginning of her career and it failed every single time. She eventually started to create lesson plans which ran into pages! She started using her own notebooks because the pre-issued standard lesson plan booklets never had enough space to accommodate her elaborate planning. Now that she has retired, young teachers still visit her to borrow her detailed lesson plans as she has tried to include the learning needs of the different kinds of kids she came across during her teaching years. Lesson plans are never “one size fits all”, she adds.
Planning lessons is a learning activity for teachers too. It involves selecting and prioritizing content, choosing activities to introduce kids to the content (unique activities to suit different needs of children), and sampling their learning through assessments. If at all lesson plans are needed in the classroom, they have to have an in-depth representation of the content and a perfect blend of teaching, activities, and assessment. Too much teaching and very little assessment can never make a perfect lesson plan. Teachers suggest that consulting with their colleagues result in the best lesson plans that help them shape the future perfectly!