It’s commonly understood that the longer you’ve been teaching, the less time you need to spend planning lessons. This is generally assumed to be because, by the time you’ve taught for a few years, you’ve either gotten used to the resources you work with, or you’ve planned all the lessons you need to; all the preparation that remains, each year, is to dig out those same plans, slide-shows, video-clips and worksheets. And for many teachers, as it used to be for me, this is certainly the case.
But planning and preparation shouldn’t be like that. Each lesson (or set of lessons, topic, unit, scheme of work, whatever) should be approached fresh, each time. Because while the ‘what’ of what we teach might remain constant (though not unquestioningly) and the ‘why’ might need only a little remembering, reassessment and revision (but always will), the ‘how’ should always be fresh, flexible, and relevant, and should always be tailored to the students in front of you and to the geographical and temporal contexts in which they do and will live.
And so my lesson (and longer-term) plans stay brief: they reference necessary content and skills to be learned. And then I try, each time, to bring new, topical material with which those students can relate and engage, and I try different approaches to learning, suited to their needs.
Teaching shouldn’t be about delivering lessons, but creating learning experiences that engage, stimulate and feel meaningful to the students. And planning and preparation should get easier and faster each year; but only because we get better at reading our students, more readily creative at finding and making kick-ass lesson content, and more skilled and experienced at planning high quality lessons.
(This rant was inspired a bit by this article that I just read.)