Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Any Plan But a Lesson Plan

The one thing they don't warn us about in college is that lesson plans, being detrimental to banter, craic and "LOLs", can sometimes lead to this horrible form of procrastination in which the sufferer begins to plan everything. Except, of course, for the lessons. The psychosis is known to lead to planning away your youth until you're a withered old man or woman. More commonly, of course, the sufferer is left in a panic.

This, of course, leads to a number of stress related illnesses. Stress is known to lead to insomnia, lack of focus and a number of bowel movements that don't do well to describe. Add this to a classroom situation, and a student teacher may find him- or herself with a nasty case of God-knows-what, and failing to live up to their potential.

And why? Because, as a basic requirement, lesson plans cannot be done too far in advance of the class. However, given the nature of a teaching placement, designed to educate a student teacher in the ways of teaching, but not quite putting them into a full classroom experience in that we never truly know the pupils by the end of the period, it is impossible for the very basics of lesson plans to help.

How can a student teacher be expected to write up a number of lesson plans, never too far in advance, and still hope to maintain a shred of the necessary sanity to qualify teaching in a classroom? While it is capable to keep up with the workload, the real problem is starting.

Is there is a solution to this? Most likely. It would certainly help if one didn't ask so many questions. A proposed solution, of course, is to allow for a period of time, supervised and monitored, in which student teachers must draw up the first three lesson plans for each of their classes. In a supervised environment, with the lesson plans inspected and given construction criticism well in advance of the lessons, the student teacher - a strange specimen, half-way between qualified and stupefied - would be able to relieve some of the pressure.

For this to work, the environment in which the student teacher is being prepared ought to be made less stressful. While it is, of course, acceptable to assume that a degree of education must still take place, the way in which the student teacher is taught and assessed can be changed to allow for a different type of workload.

Back to my original point: planning. Lesson plans, being nigh-impossible to get to work on initially, lead to excessive planning. Holidays are booked, drink plans - a high risk social event so close to the teaching placement - are made and, in an extreme case, narrative plans are drawn out extending some years into the future. With so many plans being made - youth being wished away, while placement in a school situation wastes it away - it is not surprising that, given the insomnia and associated symptoms of stress, the student teacher suffers.

Consequently, the student teacher is not graded as they would be if they were to be inspected with pre-prepared lesson plans and a less stressful lead-up to the teaching experience. No longer in even a relative state of ease, the results of teaching placement, unless in monitoring an especially helpful class group and stress-free lesson, are subsequently inaccurate. The best they can hope to achieve is to monitor the implications of stress on a student teacher and the way in which he or she deals with this stress and still manages to cope.

There is, of course, a nugget of helpful advice within these words: de-stress, stay calm, and pretend there's nothing wrong with you. You might even believe it.

1 comment:

Jim said...

They really are a chore, but I honestly found that a loose lesson plan which hung around PSHE resources was most successful - having content that was aimed at different thinkers & used different learning methods at an emotional level has been imperative to my lessons in recent years.