Mr. AB, the blogger at From the T.F.A. Trenches, just spent an evening typing up an “honest to goodness” lesson plan. It’s not that he doesn’t usually plan—he does. But usually, he plans in a manner than works for him—not in a manner that’s suitable for evaluation. And it’s his looming evaluation that’s spurred him to produce his “real” lesson plan:
We are expected to do things for the purpose of evaluation that are entirely impractical to expect a regular basis. The result is a process far more akin to artistic performance than professional assessment...we are evaluated at carefully appointed dates and times. Consequently, we are able to assure that we will be teaching our best possible lesson and be at our most obscenely over-prepared, well-stocked with carefully differentiated materials, painstakingly made hands-on activities, key cross-disciplinary connections, and deeply meaningful realia, --- all the trappings of a great teacher, all impossible for the new teacher to have on hand with the daily frequency we wish we could.
The problem with this system, Mr. AB says, is that when all is said and done, the evaluator knows only that the novice teachers can follow directions to meet evaluation expectations—not that the teacher is actually learning how to best develop lessons. His much more practical solution is that new teachers should be submitting their weekly lesson plans from the school year’s start—and then, as they learn best practices and professional development tips, subsequent weekly plans (and unannounced, observed lessons) should demonstrate this knowledge.
It’s so simple, it just might work!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.