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Are lesson plans a waste of time?

March 18, 2012

The short answer is, “no”, the long answer is, “yes”.

Obviously planning needs to go into the lessons you create for your students, not just planning but careful planning in order to ensure that what you are teaching is as effective as possible.  Every school district has their own version of lesson plans; what’s required, how often they need to be completed, how specific you must be, etc.  I think a more general lesson plan is more useful then plans that are outlined to the day.

My “perfect” lesson plan would include; the objective, essential questions, activities, and also a “recap” of what you have done with your class since your last plan was submitted.  One major thing missing from my version of lesson plans would be the “day”.  Now, I think you definitely need a specific time frame but tying your plans down specifically for certain days of the week really would limit you and hinder those ‘teaching’ moments.  Some of the greatest moments inside my classroom were born out of a sequence of events that I did not plan for.

For those saying, “Well I don’t always stick to my plan so it’s fine.”  Well then aren’t you doing yourself a disservice?  Let’s say you hand in your plans just to be able to submit them but then change your activities and end up doing some really great innovative things.  How are your supervisors suppose to see this?  They can’t be everywhere.  This is also where the recap would become a very good thing for you.

I really think schools need to look at their lesson plan structure.  Is it busy work for teachers?  Are they being looked at and being used as a tool?  They should be.  Do teachers work hard on their  plans?  Do they collaborate?  They really should be.

In business you learn about “opportunity costs”.  Simply put an opportunity cost is the cost of what you could be doing while doing something else.  For example; let’s say instead of going to the gym you decide to go out to the movies.  You have the cost of the movie but also the opportunity cost of not going to the gym.  You could have been at the gym and been burning calories, so those calories you didn’t burn would be part of your opportunity cost.

We must make sure lesson plans are not cutting into teachers, “opportunity to do something great” costs.

One Comment
  1. I think you can be creative in your planning. Instead of planning time, which always runs the risk of being derailed by the unpredictable events that come along, you can plan encounters. I, for example, like to plan interactions in my teaching. I don’t know when the opportunity will come to deliver my planning and sometimes I have to be patient and wait and watch before I can use it, but at least I have it ready in my mind. One example of this kind of planning is observation rather than action. I think it is very important to find out whether students are positively or negatively motivated so I construct small bits of dialogue to find this out. You can also discover a lot about learning style by planning your encounters.

    Interesting post!

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