Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘the teacher’s 3 lessons’

To LESSON PLAN or NOT to LESSON PLAN…that is the question! (via allthingslearning)

In Classroom Teaching on 04/09/2011 at 2:20 pm

I was just on Dave Dodgson’s great site – reading about the “hoops” that some schools still make teachers jump through – all in the name of lesson-planning!

It reminded me of a post I did a few months back – so (being the environmentally-friendly guy I have grown to become) I decided to “recycle” it…

When will people learn…it is not the lesson-planning, it is what the kids do that matters!

T..

 

To LESSON PLAN or NOT to LESSON PLAN…that is the question! An old friend of mine caught up with me on Facebook the other day. He was a great “natural” when we worked together in Dubai a few years back – he was a bit of a “maverick”, an architect who taught maths and computing, and enjoyed taking risks. My kinda teacher… In his Facebook message he made a “confession” – in all the time we worked together – he had never prepared a “lesson plan”. He explained that it was “against his religion” and noted: I a … Read More

via allthingslearning

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To LESSON PLAN or NOT to LESSON PLAN…that is the question!

In Classroom Teaching on 13/03/2011 at 3:58 pm

3 Lessons (of a TEACHer) Ver 02

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An old friend of mine caught up with me on Facebook the other day. He was a great “natural” when we worked together in Dubai a few years back – he was a bit of a “maverick”, an architect who taught maths and computing, and enjoyed taking risks.

My kinda teacher…

In his Facebook message he made a “confession” – in all the time we worked together – he had never prepared a “lesson plan”.

He explained that it was “against his religion” and noted:

I always hated the idea of lesson plans…because lesson plans are about what the teacher wants, not what the students need. Education should always start with students’ learning, not teachers’ teaching.

I pointed out that lesson plans were actually quite a good idea – if they were “learner-centred”.

His reply:

Sorry! I assume lesson plans to be teacher creatures that often have very little to do with students. I should have been more specific! Yes, ones that focus on students – good!

It’s often said that every teacher teaches 3 lessons; the lesson you plan to teach (Lesson #1), the lesson you actually teach (Lesson #2) and the lesson you wish you had taught (Lesson #3).

It always made sense to me that if I wanted to “see” the difference between these 3 Lessons, I had to have some form of “lesson plan” for the first of these – so I would get better at the second type by reflecting on the third type.

Does that make sense?

The problem was, as my friend noted, when I was “trained” as a teacher I was asked to jump through all sorts of silly hoops and prepare 3 or 4 page lesson plans for every single “dreaded” observation.

Now, I know this was probably not the intention of my teacher trainers (we wrote on “slates” in those days and the “Learning rEvolution” hadn’t quite “kicked off”) because we spoke about this – a lot!.

A typical conversation went something like this:

Tony: Come on, this is just a waste of time – you can’t seriously believe this is going to help me be a better teacher.

Trainer: Look, I know it and you know – but this is what {INSERT name of exam board} want. If you don’t do, they’ll fail you.

Tony: You mean YOU will fail me!

Trainer: YES!…just get through the observation…you can do what you want when you get the bit of paper!

I actually liked the trainer! And, did everything she said…especially the last bit!

When I started teaching full-time, I quickly realised that it was not what I wanted to do (as a teacher) that was important – it was what I wanted the students to do that really “mattered”!

It also dawned on me (some time after the fact) that everything my trainer had “learned” me was not stupid – the one thing on the lesson planning form I had to repeatedly complete in my training emphasised “objectives”. The problem was that {INSERT name of exam board} defined these as “teaching objectives”  – not “learning outcomes” (I think they may have evolved since then).

OK – I had “translated” that to mean “purpose” and brought it together with the idea of “what will the students be able to do with what they learn”. This focus on “purpose” led me to another discovery – that in every “lesson”, I should have a “big idea” that students would “get” and take away with them.

It was these three things that always formed the basis of Lesson #1 the written version. Rather than writing down every single “step” I was going to do (with “specific timings” and “classroom interaction patterns”), my lesson plans were about the steps the students would do – and how I would know if the steps students were taking actually helped “create learning”.

Engagement Ver 02 (credit)

This actually meant that Lesson #2 started to get better – I was more relaxed, I didn’t have to keep looking at my notes (written on a slate, of course) and I could focus on “being with” my students much more (rather than “teaching at” them).

The beauty of this approach meant that I was more willing to focus on Lesson #3 – and got better much faster.

And, you know what else? Observations stopped being so “dreaded”!

So, to sum up:

YES, lesson planning is important and useful (when you focus on “purpose”)

YES, lesson plans should be about what the students will do (and what they will be able to do with what they learn “with” you)

YES, lesson planning can help you become a better teacher

NO, format does not matter – and size certainly doesn’t…

For those of interested in getting better at planning (and reflecting on) your lessons, why don’t you take a look at one of my “libraries”: Tony’s LESSON PLANNING Library