Proper preparation prevents poor performance (a tamed down version from the British Army’s 7 Ps) has been on my mind this week. Labor Day officially marks the end of summer, so all students across America are back in school—which their teachers, and parents, have been preparing for their return. Also, as Hurricane Irma is making her way through the Caribbean and now has her eye set on Florida, millions of people are preparing their safety and homes.
In my own work, there has been a focus on preparation. I have been asked to train middle school teachers on guided reading, not a small content area. As I wrapped my brain around the vast topic, a decision had to be made as to what is needed for the teachers in a successful professional learning session as they embark on a new area of teaching. The answer: the biggest impact for students. To create a quality learning environment, proper planning must occur. Thus, my preparation for the training session began.
Many books, or sections of books, have been written on lesson planning. ASCD’s October 2016 edition of Educational Leadership magazine was titled “Powerful Lesson Planning.” Main ideas of the articles included planning for deep thinking, getting students engaged, mastery of learning goals, and differentiating instruction. There are so many aspects of lesson planning, it could be its own college course. Once a teacher has a solid plan in place, delivery of instruction runs smooth. It is like a watching a play—the author spent months writing the script, yet it is performed in two hours.
Lesson planning is both an art and a science. It is driven by student data and state standards (what students know and need to know), the science. More of the science is the systematic structures teachers have in place for planning, such as dedicated time and a format. Then, there is the art of how to craft the learning to meet the various needs of students. The art develops over the course of time, which makes collaboration among veteran and newer teachers a necessity for student success. The delivery is possible due to the planning.
Proper preparation prevents poor performance is a motto teachers must live by in order to make the most of every minute with students.