Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Do I Need Lesson Plans?

The title should read, "Why do I (the principal) need lesson plans?" Remember that I work at a small private school and as principal act as the instructional supervisor (among other things).

Chalk this question up to inexperience, naiveté, or ignorance. I am going to ask it anyway.

Would current teachers please comment on how their supervisors are effectively using lesson plans to help them improve as educators?

The way I see it, instructional supervision is a major part of my job. If I am doing that part of my job well, I would be in the classroom observing teachers implementing lessons. Isn't that infinitely better than reading lesson plans on paper? Anyone can write a pretty lesson plan. It takes a professional teacher to transform an effective lesson plan into an effective lesson and create an environment of learning.

The way I see it right now, collecting lesson plans from a teacher should be a way for me to help that teacher organize his thoughts to improve implementation. Think of my days teaching math. I had a few different types of students:
  1. The student who could do it correctly the first time (or even before) and I simply felt like a nag forcing him to show his work.
  2. The student who excels but shows his work so that he does not make silly errors.
  3. The student who must show his work in order to keep things together.
  4. The student who doesn't show his (or shows it ineffectively) and makes all sorts of errors.
By telling a student to show his work, I am simply trying to visually represent the connection between understanding and the externalization of understanding.

Now replace "student" with "teacher" and "shows his work" with "lesson plans". I know lesson planning is a trait of an excellent teacher (the format and function debate aside). I would expect a master teacher to plan out lessons, especially as he tries new ideas and methods.

Should teachers who "struggle" be the only ones "required" to turn in lesson plans?

Supervisors, please comment on what you believe you do well. Teachers, please share what your supervisors do to really help you.

PS - This is my first real post about a thought I have been formulating. Be kind =)

Graphic retrieved from

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