How often when making lesson plans do you ask yourself why am I teaching this? How often is the response, that it is on the test? Let's face it, many teachers today find themselves teaching to the test and ultimately losing their passion for teaching. No one goes into teaching with the hopes and dreams to teach students how to pass a test, so why are so many teachers stuck in that mindset?
Unfortunately school and teacher evaluations have been linked to student performance on high stakes test. Therefore, teaching has turned into cramming as many standards in, as quick as possible in order to prepare students for a test. This approach to teaching has left our students dreading school along with teachers. In fact, many of the issues that we as teachers complain about are due to the fact that we are teaching to the test and on a fast paced schedule in order to cram it all in.
How many times have your heard someone say, 'My students cannot problem solve.', 'I have created fun things to do but I still have behavior problems.' or 'This if very important, it is on the test.'? Let's pause, step back and reflect. Would you enjoy doing what you are asking your students to do each day? Are you excited about what you are doing with your students? If the answer is no, then there needs to be change.
Let's step into the shoes of our students and start seeing the world from their perspective. Think back and remember all of the things you enjoyed doing as a kid. Then ask yourself, how can I incorporate that into a "learning plan"? Stop lesson planning to death, just to get kids to pass a test, instead get innovative and create learning plans that provide students will real life application and turn them into lifelong learners.
Below is a picture of just a few of my thoughts on what a learning plan is versus a lesson plan. This is not the be all, end all by any means, so feel free to take from it and add to it.
Teaching students through play and allowing them time to problem solve creates a desire in them to want to learn more. Many times we just want them to memorize the steps to solve each particular problem, but what they really need is time to sit and problem solve on their own. If they can figure the problem out on their own, they have ownership of their learning.
How we teach should not just engage students but empower them. Student engagement is at the surface level. Student empowerment is getting to the heart of every student. Every teacher wants to touch the heart of their students and give them an upward trajectory. Today, are you teaching in a way that touches the heart of every student?
When starting to shift your mindset from lesson plans to learning plans, ask yourself these questions:
1. How can I weave play into teaching this concept?
2. How can I relate this concept to how students can apply it in their lives?
3. Why am I teaching this concept and what is the best way to teach it?
4. If I were my students what would I want to do with this concept?
5. Will this lesson empower my students and create life long learners?