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Chris Perrin, November 22, 2017 in
Essentials of Effective Teaching
One consistent theme in Robyn Burlew's advice to teachers--is to plan well. She recommends planning for the year, the quarter or unit, the week and the day. She recommends planning for assignments and assessments. Does your experience confirm the importance of good planning? If so, how?
Dr. Perrin, I have a related question—when is it appropriate to diverge from the plan (e.g. a lesson plan or even a unit plan)? In other words, how do you strike the harmony between the structure of a plan and the flexibility of a dynamic class?
This is a great question. No doubt it takes wisdom to know when to stay with a plan and resist a divergence, and when to take the new path, perceiving that it will be wise and helpful to the class. Having a plan, in any situation, is of course needed. A teacher without a planned lesson will be tempted to take any diverging path offered by students (or her own mind), as any path seems better than no path. A teacher with a plan will have a baseline or standard to which to compare any offered divergence. Is this new path complementary to my planned path? Will replace my plan or just take a short while so that I can return to my plan? A teacher with a clear plan and clear learning targets (especially in the grammar school) will know when an offered divergence can complement, distract, supplement or comprise the learning that she is seeking to impart.
I agree that planning is essential, though it may look a bit different for the homeschool instructor than the classroom teacher.
Failing to plan is planning to fail! If we don't have solid plans going forward, it's easy to get off track. That being said, we must remember that we own the planning tools- they don't own us. Especially in the home setting, but even in the classroom refusal to deviate from plan at times can add up to wasted learning opportunities.
More importantly, it's often the unexpected moments that cultivate loves and virtues. And if the plan nook is what we cling to, instead of the learning opportunities, then students will grow to be planners, not explorers.
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