Within the teaching world the dispute over lesson plans simmers quietly. Should one plan lessons prior to each class or should one go with the energy and flow of the class to make every class new and different?
Ms Solomon, a long time teacher
based in Auckland, but with international experience, had this to say:
“I used lesson plans when I first began teaching back in 1974. I had been taught at training college to do them and it didn't occur to me, initially, that I might NOT adhere tightly to what I been taught. About five years into my teaching career, I realized that my classes were flat and lacking energy. My students did not appear to be as stimulated as I wanted them to be and this was obviously very disappointing. It was at this point that I stopped lesson planning. My methodology now is to outline the entire course to the students in broad terms and get their feedback. This gives me an overview of their needs. At the beginning of my classes my students can bring any language issues they have up for discussion and then we decide on what to work on that day. This keeps my classes vibrant and spontaneous and the energy level is definitely higher than it was.
“What I have described here is actually long term planning as opposed to short term (daily) planning and I have found it to be infinitely more useful and my classes now have a freshness and surprise which is wonderful, not only for the students but for myself.”
The case for lesson planning then, appears to be strong but even so, there is an argument against it:
As a novice myself I felt the opinion of another novice, but one with a little experience, would be invaluable:
Ms St Cartmail of Auckland's response to the question of lesson planning is as follows:
“As a novice teacher
, I rely heavily on lesson planning.
“With a lesson plan, I feel much more confident about standing up in front of a class and taking charge.
“The lesson plans I create provide a template that I might or might not adhere to, but merely knowing I have prepared one makes me feel more secure in myself as an instructor. I refer to it, when need be, during the class, but that happens less frequently than I would have expected. I think this is because the simple fact of having created it focuses the lesson in my mind more firmly.
“There is a lot of pressure at the school I am at. During the course of a teaching day, I might have seven classes. Each of these classes is comprised of pupils of various ethnic origins. The various classes are also all of different ability levels and are at different stages in the school syllabus. For these reasons also, lesson planning is an enormously useful teaching aid as it would be very difficult to front seven classes in the course of a working day and retain fresh in my mind what each class needed.
“The single most useful aspect of lesson planning for me though, is that a lesson plan is my reminder of where and how a class or class member was unable to grasp the concept being taught. The lesson plan in this instance has jogged my memory many times and alerted me to the need to revise certain language points.
“Another important factor with respect to lesson planning, is that the plans provide a record, a permanent record in fact, of what the students in any particular class have learned. This is invaluable, not just for temporary relief teacher
s who are sometimes called upon to fill in, but also for permanent replacement teacher
s. Another factor here is school inspections: the language school I work at expects the teacher
s to do lesson plans in case a school inspector wants to see them, to ascertain how much of the actual course work has, in fact, been covered during class.”
Of these two divergent views, it seems clear that foregoing lesson planning is the domain of the brave, the maverick, and the very, very confident. Some people can get away with it but they are few. Lesson planning is an invaluable teaching tool and should remain so. Especially for the novice teacher