These days it is easy for educators to find an array of different teaching activities on the internet that are entertaining for students and easy to set up – from ready-made worksheets to YouTube videos and lesson ideas, etc. The question is, when did it become okay to teach without thought or purpose and simply fill in the time with random activities and busy work? The answer is since there has been a lack of proper planning tools provided to teachers. Below is a generic planning template I created to illustrate what I am referring to.
The planner above, and similar ones that can be found on the internet, lend themselves to the plugging-in of haphazard activities and time fillers. Nowhere on the planner does it ask a teacher to reflect on objectives or outcomes; nowhere on the planner does it ask a teacher to refer to their unit plans and nowhere on the planner does it require a teacher to make sure lessons from one day to the next connect, or that lessons from one subject to another connect. There is no opportunity for a teacher to differentiate or to scaffold. The planner is simply asking for teachers to fill a subject area’s time slot with something, anything. And so it has become very easy to go on the internet, find a random engaging activity, and plug it in. What the above planner is designed for is the organization of activities that relate to specific subjects, and that is it, nothing more. Time filled, mission accomplished.
And what are the consequences of such a planner? Disjointed and disconnected lessons, lessons that are fun but perhaps not purposeful, and objectives and outcomes not being fulfilled, just to name a few. How can this be resolved? By taking the time to ensure that every teacher’s planners are individualized, serve a clear purpose, and require a teacher to think about why they are teaching what they are teaching each and every lesson.
As educators, we must always be mindful that in order for learning to be relevant for our students tomorrow, it must have purpose today, and this begins with the use of proper planning tools. To learn more about the power of planners, and to see samples of planners that ensure purposeful lessons, please see the following articles:
The Power of Planners
A Planning Template for Passion-Based Learning
Setting Up a Guided Reading Program Across Grade Levels