The requirement of detailed lesson plans is the single most divisive issue between administrators and teachers.
Many teachers feel elaborate lesson planning is a complete waste of energy. Some are resentful of the time it takes away from more important teaching tasks. In contrast, many administrators feel in-depth plans are the magic bullets that ensure high-quality instruction and effective methodology. They drank the Kool-Aid.
If ever there was a time to eliminate the time-suck of intricate plans, it is during the ever-changing climate of distance learning. Teachers should be given the freedom to plan and prioritize as they see necessary.
Here is why requiring extensive lesson plans right now is asinine:
1. We already make a schedule online.
Teachers are now using Google Classroom, Canvas, and other learning management systems to communicate their learning tasks to students and parents.
We list the times, the activities, and work to be completed. Writing it down twice is well…… Utter insanity!
2. Our plates are full.
The pandemic has taken us far into the abyss. We have had to explore various ways to teach. Our time is spent finding lessons on Seasaw, Google Slides, and the million other programs that we never heard about until the Pandemic hit.
Please don’t assign us anything to be turned in and checked that is not necessary. Our plates will crash to the floor and break into a million tiny pieces.
3. “Plans change” is an understatement.
Teaching is constantly transforming. Tomorrow, we could PIVOT to hybrid learning, virtual learning, or teaching in a spacesuit. We just never know.
Teachable moments happen. Magic takes place during these times. How sad would it be if they were ignored because we had to stick to the plan?
4. Planning is different.
We get up an hour early to open a million computer tabs that we need for distance learning for the day. Teachers scour TPT for Google Slides that they can use to effectively teach a distance education lesson for which they haven’t been given materials. This is planning.
We may find a great online lesson that we want to teach today instead of something we had written (in blood) on our lesson plans. We review the materials before we teach. We anticipate problems ahead of time. All planning.
We need to feel the freedom to use our own “teacher judgment.”
5. Trust is destroyed.
When teachers are given busy work that is perceived as micromanagement, resentment is created.
Does a dentist have to turn in plans of how they are going to fill a cavity? No, they are trusted to do the job because they are professionals.
What does that say about us? If we don’t turn in a bunch of words on paper, are we really going to show Disney movies all day?
6. Teachers still plan.
Let’s be clear here. I am not saying teachers should not plan. I am saying let us choose how we plan. Requiring pages and pages of lesson plans with questions, standards, and materials is overkill.
Ways we can plan instead:
- Write down our ideas and daily plan in the note sections of our phones.
- Annotate with sticky notes the Teacher’s Edition that contains our scripted lessons.
- Put all our online resources in Google Files for the week.
Here is an “I Can statement” for you. “I Can teach effectively” without writing a million “I Can statements” in my lesson plans.
Tune in to any distance learning or in-person lesson and one can determine if there is evidence of planning. Online, teachers are having small groups in breakout rooms, sharing Jamboards, and working simultaneously with their students on the same documents. We have learned so much in so little time. All we ask in return is to give us a break from the lesson plans.