The student teacher’s lesson plans are carefully written and detailed, noting content and skills objectives, describing activities, and noting special learning and diversity needs where appropriate. Lessons exhibit clearly focused, sensible connections from one to the next, and are designed to promote construction of knowledge by students. The student teacher takes time to explain lesson objectives to students and, using a variety of strategies, checks that students are clear about what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Teacher Education Handbook, Secondary Education 2011-2012
After three and a half weeks of teaching at Brown Summer High School, I believe I am approaching Brown University Practice-Based Standard Three: Planning.
Although my lesson plans were carefully written with due attention paid to objectives and activities, and I tried to accommodate for a wide range of possible learning differences in my classroom, I still need to work on expanding my teaching methodology to be able to deliver successful lessons to all the students who are present in my classroom. Since the beginning of my classes at Brown University, I have begun to compile a list of approaches to appeal to the different strengths and knowledge bases of my students. I used kinetic and audio-visual methods in teaching, and I used reading materials of different levels of difficulty, ranging from Philip Gourevitch’s scholarly We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed with Our Families to newspaper articles to spoken-word poetry. I believe Wiggins and McTighe are correct when they say that educators “need to put students in a position to learn far more, on their own, than they can ever learn from us” (Wiggins 44). To do this and meet Brown’s Standard for Planning, I need to continue departing from the style I favored in my past teaching experiences – direct teacher presentations – and work on enabling students to reach the transfer stage of their knowledge with my help but on their own.
Defining and articulating clear and coherent lesson and unit objectives, in consideration with students’ background knowledge, is another area where my planning skills need to improve. In his Teach like a Champion, Doug Lemov describes the 4Ms, designed by Todd McKee, as the criteria for effective teaching. According to Lemov, learning objectives need to be manageable, measurable, made first, and focus on what is most important. I believe most of these criteria to be valuable and applicable to any effective pedagogy, and I need to work on all of them. I need to improve my objectives’ manageability, since they tend to be opaque or broad. I need to pay attention to the measurability of my objectives as I try to synthesize my teaching, students’ learning, and the assessment process. I need to continue with the backward design teaching model to make sure the activities I employ are guided by concrete and well-articulated objectives. And most importantly, I need to prioritize the content which I teach to avoid tangents and keep my lessons clearly focused.
As I continue teaching, these are my planning goals:
1. I need to work on expanding my teaching strategies to assist in my students’ knowledge transfer process.
2. I need to continue working on setting clear and well-defined objectives, which follow a clear progression , are manageable, measurable, made first, and focus on what is most important.