Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lesson plans

I think every practicum teacher goes through questioning why lesson plans are useful.  Some find them odious and don't see the value of creating something that rarely executes as expected.  As a teacher instructor, I find lesson plans a real insight into what is intended by a practicum teacher.  As a tool it forces the practicum student to think about what they intend to do, before doing it.  The lesson plan also provides an opportunity for feedback between the teacher instructor and practicum teacher that can be done before a lesson is run (rather than the trite comment given by teacher instructors with the benefit of hindsight after the lesson).

A quick look at a lesson plan can provide a teacher instructor a wealth of information about how a practicum teacher is travelling.  Here are some things that I look at within a lesson plan.

  • Has the teacher connected the lesson to prior learning?
  • Is timing adequately considered?
  • Is the scope of the lesson being managed?
  • Are the main teaching points identified?
  • Is the level proposed appropriate for the students?
  • Is there adequate opportunity for students to demonstrate competence?

Without a reasonably detailed and well thought out lesson plan, practicum  teachers are placed on the back foot, forever reacting to issues rather than predicting issues and developing skills and knowledge to compensate.  By setting clear goals for performance before a lesson practicum teachers are able to see improvement measured against the goals of the lesson plan.

A note of warning, lesson plans on practicum have a finite life, as practicum teachers start taking full load, timing constraints limit their effectiveness (and can cause burnout towards the end of ten week practicum if detailed lesson plans are pursued).   The full benefit of a lesson plan is gained whilst a practicum students is ramping up. Even with this limitation, lesson plans (for all their odious nature), tied to reflective practices after a lesson, provide practicum teachers a platform to develop their fledgling skills into skilled teaching practitioners.

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