As college students when taught the craft of becoming a teacher, one thing is hammered into us again and again; the necessity of lesson plans. We are given graphic organizers to ensure that we account for every single possible thing; special needs, types of learing, beginning, goal, standards and on and on. I slaved over my mine, creating perfect fictitious classrooms that would need my supposed expertise to reach the goal. It would always be me as the fierce director bringing students into learning, the keeper of the flame.
As a first year teacher, I continued my meticulous planning, always knowing the end goal and more importantly the exact path that I would take to go there. Students were forced down my chute of learning so that they could reach their glorious destination, often not having time to take a different direction, a different approach. I had curriculum to get through and by golly I would!
And then I realized what I was really doing. By glossing over student questions, by forcing my path on the students, I was losing them. I was losing their inquisitiveness, their creativity, their sense of learning style and most sadly, I was losing their trust in me as a teacher. Why would they open up when I barely ever slowed down to listen to them? It wasn’t that I wasn’t a decent teacher, I was, but that was it, decent. No room for individuality, no room for new discoveries, just here is the goal, let’s reach it.
Learning is always happening in any classroom you walk into. But notice the different types of learning. Is there room for student exploration? For veering off the path? For taking a totally different route altogether? How stringent is the teacher with their lesson plan, is it followed minutely or used as a guide for the ultimate goal? How loud are the students? How engaged? I was once asked by my principal what my goal for a particularly disastrous lesson plan was and I couldn’t tell him, what I could tell him was the path I was going to take. What a wake up call that was – thanks Mr. Rykal -know your goal, think of a path but then don’t be afraid to go another route, to listen to the students, let them shape the learning. I promise, you will see the difference in excitement, in caring, and in learning. Do you dare to take anther route?