We all start out at level one. We might be told by our college professors that we’ll be better than the teachers in the field, but actually, we’ll be much, much worse for a few years, and planning is the reason why. I’m uniquely qualified to make this assessment, because I simultaneously teach in a real-life middle school, and I teach a 200-level college course as an adjunct professor of education.
In college courses, the “lesson plan” is something of a summative assessment. In my own course, it is the third of four major technology-based assignments, and is by far the most difficult, because it incorporates the elements of assessment, and effective technology engagement from the previous assignments. A whole semester working towards and scaffolding one lesson plan! ...and my course is not unique. EDU students leave college having written maybe a dozen lesson plans, thirty plans at most over four years, most of which being assigned and assessed by professors who have never taught in a K-12 setting.
Then, they’re put through the crucible of actual teacher practice, sometimes starting out the gate in September of their first teaching year with three lessons to plan, prepare, and assess EVERY SINGLE DAY! Naturally, our young teachers are deep, deep underwater through their receiving tenure, and often beyond. I work with some teachers who are almost halfway through their career and still can’t tell you with any accuracy what students will learn next Wednesday, or how this week’s work advances students’ learning towards the summative assessment, or when the summative assessment will be, or how to gauge whether students are ready for the summative assessment...
The next four posts will take you on a journey through the classroom, and decision-making process, of a level one lesson planner. We’ll look at the timeline of lessons, the planning focus, some possible material sources for beginner teachers, and we’ll examine how students tend to spend time when lessons are planned this way. I cannot state enough, level one lesson planning is not “bad,” as level four is not “good.” A career in education is a journey, and it’s only through consistent practice, being an actual teacher of actual students, that any meaningful learning can occur.
So much of the writing published about education is published by people who don't teach. I figured it was time for a teacher to write about teaching. I've been proud to teach 8th-grade ELA in Dunkirk City Schools since 2007, and to serve at Fredonia State University as an adjunct professor, teaching educational technology since 2017.