I am going to start this post by making a sweeping statement which is kinda harsh, and will definitely make some of you, my lovely readers, roll your eyes.
I hate writing lesson plans
I hate writing lesson plans which are part of a formal observation and have to be timed, have to have tasks with minutes next to them (gotcha! So, my title was a bit misleading ….).
The problem with lesson plans that are part of a formal school or diploma observation is that you get sucked in cause of the ‘minutes’, and you may lose sight of what you really should be focusing on. As far as I am concerned, lessons that had to be based on specific timing as part of the lesson plan made me feel like I am suffocating.
Maybe the timing bit is what I hate the most. Trying to figure out how many minutes you will spend on a grammar task, a reading, a group activity. So, you write up your ‘official’ lesson plan, you go into class and then you are stuck. You do not or maybe even cannot stray from what you planned in a hypothetical lesson plan.
You decide to do a reading task. It’s a dense semi-long reading passage and you plan ten mins for reading and four for exercises. You go into class and then you give the instructions and the students start reading.Ten minutes are up. You say, ” Has everyone finished reading? Do you need more time?” and then… some students dare to say, ” Yes, we need more time…..” .
OMG. There goes my planning… down the drain. I am behind in my minutes, and now I am gonna have to go rush rush through other stuff, or even skip other stuff which leads to more minute missing, more bad planning, more feeling like the person observing you will give you a bad grade! I have realised that when I am observed, I am ashamed to admit this, but I do lose sight of what my learners need and start dreading the tick tock of the clock.I think, ”I gotta stick to my timing. I should’ve put this setback in my anticipated problems, but I didn’t. Oh my, I am a bad teacher, I am not doing what’s on my lesson plan” (Joanna says sarcastically).
You have a listening task. You decide to play the recording twice, but when the recording is over, your learners say, ” We didn’t find anything. It was too hard. We need to listen to it again”. You start sweating. You play the recording again cause that’s what the learners need and then… tick tock, tick tock.
How I normally plan lessons- my happy place
This is probably blasphemy, and the ELT Gods will probably ostracise me, but, when I am not observed and I do not have to make a detailed plan, I look at my material, start ticking what I will do, make notes, sometimes on post-it notes, I write down the minutes but very loosely, and then I walk into class. If something interesting comes up, I change my plan and go with the flow (ooooohh). If students are having difficulties, I start trying to figure out ways to explain things, and again stray from the plan. I think my lessons are good, my learners learn (most of the times) and everyone is happy. When I get observed, I may stick to my minutes, but I can’t say I am the happiest teacher on the block. My observed lessons are not my best ones, even when the feedback is really good (yes, sometimes it is…).
So, that’s why I hate lesson plans… with a passion. I dislike minutes. I wish lesson plans did not have the timing box, and we could just go with the flow or maybe I am just a bad planner….Oh! By the way, I know observations are aimed to help us, and give us suggestions on how to improve. I do really learn a lot from them. The latter does not mean though that I don’t feel trapped in my little boxes (the tables where you write your lp).
What do you guys think?