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Institute Tips: Lesson-Planning Breakdown

June 19, 2014

So, you’re lesson-planning. Maybe you feel like you’re about to have a breakdown. Your Corps Member Advisor is there to help, of course, but if you want another way to have it explained or just need some sass in your life, read on!

First, some perspective on who the heck I am:

Hi, I’m Blair! I’m a Corps Member Advisor at the Tulsa Institute (woot!), and I finished up TFA in the Twin Cities region about a week ago (yup, I’m a newly minted alum… yikes!).

Now, let’s break down lesson-planning in three quick-and-dirty concepts:

1) Start your lesson plan by thinking about WHAT kiddos can DO and HOW they will explain your objective after you’ve taught them. If you’re teaching multiplication, what will it look like for your kiddos to DO the math, show their work, and explain their answer? This is why your exemplar response is so important. Side note: If YOU don’t know the skill, you’ll have the darndest time teaching it. Make sure you can explain the skill backwards and forwards. Try explaining it to your beau, your mom, or a friend via phone—if you can do it there, you can teach it!

2) Lesson-planning, when done right, should NOT take more than an hour or two. Folks within TFA are generally a hard-working bunch. That’s great. However, I think we sometimes think that just working harder or longer will make us great teachers. If you’re spending hours and hours on every lesson, you need to co-plan one with your CMA or a fast-planning colleague. If you’re spending all of the time planning and none of the time sleeping, your lesson is not going to rock. 

3) The devil’s in the details. Last week, a corps member in my cohort demonstrated an amazing hook for her lesson to my CM group. It had us, as adults, totally engaged! At first glance, you might think that it was 100% ready for being taught to kids. BUT: she didn’t have clear expectations for each part (e.g., do this portion silently), and she didn’t have a plan for how students would enter the room or what they would be doing the second they sat down. It was a whole bunch of small stuff that added up to stuff that could potentially derail a great lesson.

I could go on and on, but I think these three concepts are particularly helpful for incoming teachers (and, well, all of us!). Good luck planning!