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Lesson Plans

To the Editor:

I think that D. LaBarbera [“No More Lesson Plans,” April] does have a lesson plan problem. When LaBarbera confesses to not knowing the purpose for writing lesson plans and then admits, “I came to teaching with little formal preparation,” we can understand the reason for the problem. Sounds like more education courses are definitely in order.

The statement that “writing lesson plans is not in anyone’s best interest” indicates that this teacher needs to talk to teachers who know how to write meaningful lesson plans. Good lesson plans indicate how a teacher is able to plan ahead; how a teacher can summarize, day by day, what will take place in each subject; and how much the teacher has planned ahead for the use of resources, guest speakers, and manipulatives. How would the author expect a substitute to survive in a classroom, even for a day, without an appropriate lesson plan written by the classroom teacher?

Shame on LaBarbera for writing a two-column article about her inability to perform an important part of teaching. When “scope and sequence float around in the head” and “little scrap lists” are used as reminders once or twice a year, we can assume that efficient planning is not taking place. Whatever happened to the idea that good teaching requires careful written planning, planning that provides a flexible framework for daily lessons and assignments? We have heard the common complaint from college teachers that students cannot express themselves in writing. Maybe it’s because their teachers cannot express themselves in writing either.

If enough competent teachers send samples of lesson plans to LaBarbera’s school in Nacogdoches, Texas, maybe LaBarbera will get a message she should have received a long time ago. The students will definitely be the winners.

Mary Elizabeth Anderson
4th Grade Teacher
Lincoln School
Mount Vernon, N.Y.

To the Editor:

“No More Lesson Plans” must have caused a collective sigh of anguish from readers who saw it as a heretical attack on the very essence of administrative necessity for successful teaching. Not have lesson plans? My goodness, gosh almighty, how could one possibly be a good teacher without the guiding light of well-thought-out lesson plans?

These comments wouldn’t be tongue in cheek if lesson plans, in fact, were true plans that a teacher develops to ensure continuity in teaching and if such plans were not just mere duplications of textbooks that schools pay good money to purchase.

As a teacher in the public school system, I constantly endeavored to circumvent lesson plan writing. From experience, I learned that it was a pure waste of time—time that was sorely needed in other areas. We were required to follow a standard format and include, each day, letter symbols of state-mandated standards so that if someone ever came from the state department of education (which never happened), we could show that we understood and were following all the directions. Once a week, we were required to turn in our plans under the threat of an “entry in your personnel file.” The poor lead teacher was required to spend her time minutely checking and initialing all plans. I am sure that her checking was about as detailed as the details put into our plans. The returned plans were usually forgotten until it was time to write the next week’s set.

Examples such as this plague education and keep the real job of educating children from happening. To meet the job threats of the “system,” time is totally wasted. Competent administrators know if a teacher is effective; they know that the professional teacher will plan, practice, and study to present the subject in the best manner. Incompetence is obvious, regardless of a submitted lesson plan.

Wentworth X. Durkee
Retired Teacher
Hartwell, Ga.

To the Editor:

I applaud D. LaBarbera for expressing so eloquently the concerns of many teachers. I have been teaching since 1959. I have taught in San Diego, Chicago, and Atlanta. As the article states: Lesson plans are person- al. They should be flexible, guiding, and effective. When you have an entire grade level doing the exact same activities, you kill creativity. Teaching is creative.

Mary Adkins

Lives On The Edge

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to “Lives On The Edge” by Valerie Polakow [March]. I am a teacher in the Philadelphia public school system and have taught for 20 years. I was appalled at the insensitivity of four out of the five teachers profiled. How could we as adults humiliate these youngsters? What defense do they have? As I read the case history of each child, I wondered if I had ever displayed this kind of behavior toward my students. I sincerely hope not. This article upset me so much that I had to write and tell you how I felt.

Constance Bach
Cheltenham, Pa.

To the Editor:

“Lives On The Edge” was the perfect response to Miriam Shapiro’s letter [March] that called your February cover story on home- schooling “disgusting.” For an answer to her question, “Why would educators committed to schools want to read about this family that scorns our efforts?” one has only to read about the bleak experiences that the children Valerie Polakow profiled had in school. You must have broken a speed record in giving a response to a reader’s question.

Of course, educators committed to schools do not want to read about successful learning outside of classrooms. Maybe they should be more committed to children than they are to schools.

Robert Johnson
Lamoni, Iowa

An Inspiration

To the Editor:

Just a quick note to tell you how pleasantly surprised I was as I read through my first issue of Teacher Magazine [March]. It was nice to read something truly thought-provoking—not written from the Pollyanna perspective of many other magazines written for teachers. Teacher Magazine deals with real issues and asks valid questions.

While good teachers can have a positive impact on the future, most of us do not have magic wands to cure all the problems of society at large. Nevertheless, reading about Kay Toliver [“Overnight Sensation”] was inspiring. She shared many marvelous ideas that I’d like to try. I’m looking forward to future issues.

Cherie Freding
Rockford, Ill.

To the Editor:

I loved the article on Kay Toliver and particularly liked the mention of her friend Elba Marrero, who supported her as an award candidate. We all need friends like that.

Caroline Bauer
Miami Beach, Fla.


To the Editor:

When I read your promotional material for your magazine, I understood that it was a magazine for teachers in public or private schools and that the articles would be about issues pertinent to those people. I was disappointed to see comments about homeschooling in the first issue I received. Then, the cover story of the second issue I received was on home- schooling [“Teach Your Children,” February]. As a public school teacher, I do not support the homeschooling effort. I do a good job and do not feel that parents who may not even have a college degree or, in some cases, a high school diploma can teach their children better than I can with five plus years of college and 16 years of experience. Please cancel my subscription.

Marsha Langseth
Albert Lea, Minn.

Surrogate Parent

To the Editor:

I am not a teacher nor have I ever been one. When I subscribed in the past to your magazine, I did so only because I became a surrogate “mother” to an abused child, and he is a slow learner.

The magazine has helped teach me how to apply my education to a smaller child. I didn’t know how to do this because I am a bachelor and only decided to become a surrogate parent upon retirement. I am now 73 years old; the child is 10. We get along fine, and what I have learned from your magazine has benefited me. I regret, however, that I cannot accept your offer to renew as, living on a fixed income, I just cannot afford it.

Wasyll Gina
New Haven, Conn.

Vol. 04, Issue 08, Pages 6-7, 57

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