So my lesson today didn’t go to plan. Of course for good measure, I was being critiqued by a supervisor from the university for this mornings 110 minute double period of year ten physics. I have three pages of her notes. Most of these involve scathing criticism for deviating from ‘the plan’. As a uni student and a prac teacher, I am expected to produce, for every lesson I teach, a document no less than two pages that details the knowledge I expect the students to gain, which ‘student outcome students’ they work towards, which ‘overarching statements’ of the curriculum council they relate to, what year, class and intelligence level it applies to, any prior knowledge required, but most wonderfully, a breakdown of every single thing I expect myself to do and students to do, listed in sequence and with timing of each task, movement or thought broken down into a minute by minute elaboration.
It isn’t that no one, at all, does anything resembling this outside of university prac students that really bothers me. It’s not that it’s a pain in the ass to have to write out in boring detail each and every thing you intend to do in a day. It’s not even that it sucks the life or any kind of spontaneity and opportunity out of the situation. It’s that if I deviate from ‘the plan’ or rearrange the order of some of the tasks because some questions that were asked led in a certain direction, I get sledged for my ‘bad planning’. This makes no sense to me. If I have a plan, then choose not to follow it, how does that make the plan the bad thing? Should my plan be practically perfect in every way so that no one would ever consider deviating from it, regardless of circumstance? What annoys me even more is that we’re constantly pressured to centre the lessons around the students and to tailor things for individual students and classes, but at the same time they expect us to have everything planed and penned beforehand.
If I were sewing together someones Nikes in Vietnam somewhere for three bucks a week, I’m sure there’s a practical, efficient way of stapling dead goats and plastic together that produces the most shoes an hour. But I’m not working on shoes, I’m working with people, and people aren’t a constant or totally predictable entity. If I could predict the thought patterns of students and the questions they were going to ask, I sure as hell wouldn’t be getting up at 5am to go teach.
All that I can really gather is that they want me to write a lesson plan in such a way that it looks like a student-centred lesson and involves performing several hundred buzzword tasks, and then do exactly what I have written down. What that seems like to me is the same bollocks as a teacher reading from a textbook, except it’s something they’ve written instead of someone else. They’ve just written it down in a form that’s looks acceptably like whatever education concept that they’re being pushed to use.
I find it annoying that I know I could re-write the plans I have already done so that they are in an acceptable format, but the actual content of the lesson and what the students do wouldn’t change.
It all feels like a sign in a chain store that says “Quality, Service and Customer Satisfaction”. It’s a lot of pretty words, but it really doesn’t mean shit.