I’m what you would call spontaneous. I’m sure my ADHD has something to do with that. I do my best thinking in the shower. Because of this, my plans change constantly. I make someone with OCD pull their hair out. Luckily, I work with amazing people who accept me as I am – and kids who love to go with the flow!
When I first started teaching, I feverishly worked on lesson plans (because that’s what we’re taught to do, right?) but after I got my final evaluation as a new teacher – the lesson plans pretty much stopped. When I started at my new school 5 years ago, I looked a my principal and said, “You know I haven’t done lesson plans since probably around 1999, right?” He thought I was joking – I wasn’t. Those first few years were rough. I would get glowing observations from admin, but would constantly see the words, “It’s obvious you’ve planned your lesson, but where are your lesson plans?”
It’s not that I don’t always have a plan in place – but my plans are fluid. If something doesn’t work right for my first class – there’s no way in the world I’m killing that dead horse three more times. So I struggled…..with highlighting what I was doing in my classroom on this 2D sheet of paper. I actually still do.
Flipping my classroom has helped with that; but I’ve still struggled. When I started flipping my classroom, we were towards the end of the school year. My kiddos were able to work well in unsupervised small groups, because they already knew how mean and crazy I was. The DID NOT want the face “the wrath”.
How that looks at the beginning of the school year is completely different. They don’t know me yet. I don’t know them yet. So I had to change the way I wanted my classroom to look. With new standards and a new textbook that we were expected to use and I’ve had to change they way my classroom looks many, many times.
Some things remain consistent. Making sure students have time to read independently, write through blogging, and practice skills that I know they’ll be assessed on. For me, it’s also imperative that they have time to think critically and create based on their learning. And I also need that time that I can work with small groups or students on an individual basis – this has helped me add another dimension to my relationship building.
The best thing that I could have done it put everything on the board for the kids. Objective….check! Step by step instructions…check! No more do they ask me, “What’re we supposed to be doing?” They look at the board and keep it moving – and that frees me up to work with kids without interruption AND helps me not to flip out on them.
These last few months have been difficult for me. For the first time…..EVER!…..we’ve covered all the standards….super EARLY. So I’ve had all this extra time that I want to make sure is used effectively. It’s still trial and error but isn’t everything. In this world, by the time you get the hang of something – it all changes again.
So if you ask me is planning necessary, you’ll hear a resounding “Yes!” But what that looks like to me may not be what you think. What I’ve come to realize is that what the kids have to follow is much more important than anything any adult that comes into my classroom has to follow. And if they have a questions….hey…..ask a kid.
Until the next time,