Lesson Planning Questions

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Kenz501, Feb 24, 2018.

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  1. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Feb 28, 2018

    As you might expect, my students' behavior has also started to reflect my poor planning skills. I don't really feel justified in writing them up, either, because every time I resort to doing that, my principal says something to me. There must be some other way to handle discipline "in house," but I'm not aware of what it is.

    Yep, I'm having a lot of problems that could be solved if someone would just communicate with me. I don't know how to ask questions, though, without coming off as incompetent. I feel like everyone expects me to have it together, because apparently teacher training in this area is better than the place where I graduated.
     
  2. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    OP, this thread has come full circle to eventually come to the same conclusions as all of your other threads - and I mean ALL of them. You lack the ability to access the skill sets taught to you in college, and now it is the fault of your coworkers that you are failing - they won't train you, give you lessons that they have made, or, in other words, do 80% of your job for you. ASD or not, I am relieved that you are in Texas and not on staff at my school. You would have worn out your welcome and my patience ages ago, and then I would be one of your unfair colleagues.
     
  3. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    That might be true, but I was just trying to lay out why I was having so much trouble. Student teaching, at least the one I did when I was getting my teaching license for English / Language Arts did happen about five or six years ago, though, and I wasn't hired at a job that required lesson planning skills until after I got my master's. It's possible they did train me and I forgot it through not using it often, but I don't think it's that rare for people to not use training for a few years. I should still be able to do the job, shouldn't I?

    This isn't griping; it's troubleshooting, isn't it?
     
  4. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    WOW !!! You got A LOT more training than I did!! You are fortunate that your district was willing to help set you up for success in this way!
     
  5. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    No, they have documentation that they attempted to "train' me. It didn't really teach me how to do the job, though, so I'm pretty much in the same position I was before I received any "help."
     
  6. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Did you bring in bagels, donuts, coffee, and orange juice to leave in the teacher's lounger as a THANK YOU for everyone who has helped you so far?
     
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  7. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    No, I guess I should have, though. I don't like bringing food to people. What if someone were allergic?
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Then they won't choose to eat that food. You are not going to force it down their throat, but rather make it available to those who wish to indulge. These are simple social graces, OP.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 28, 2018

    I've never worked at a school where this happened. We all work towards the same standards, but go about it a completely different way. The lessons that my grade partner teaches would never work for me--we have vastly different teaching styles and personalities, not to mention completely different students (and student needs).

    You remind me of one of my students; once she decides that she can't do something, or doesn't understand it, she throws her hands up and doesn't even try to learn. She has lots of "reasons" why she doesn't get it, but her plan never includes making the effort to learn. That wall goes up and she shuts down. She is bright, and more than capable, she just doesn't want to put in the work. I don't accept it from her, and that's why very few of us are accepting it from you.

    Your ASD (diagnosed or not) may be a reason why certain things are more challenging for you, but it can never be an excuse. Through the hiring process, someone saw something in you that made them certain that you would be able to do this job, and do it well. Prove them right.
     
  10. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    First of all, I'm sure you already know the answer to this question. The process for effective problem-solving begins with asking the right questions. You said it yourself: "I don't know how to ask questions . . . without coming off as incompetent."

    Not everyone is suited for every profession including teaching. Would you like to be a student in a class taught by someone with the following incompetencies?
    • I can make a lesson that looks good on paper, but when I try to teach it it makes absolutely no sense.
    • I don't transfer skills well
    • It's little things like that that get in the way.
    • I don't know how to ask questions, though, without coming off as incompetent
    • I had trouble coming up with lessons during student teaching
    • I don't think I could do any better than I've been doing
    • I'm just learning as I go and doing the best I can
    • I still can't create my own activities to make something meet a standard
    • . . . unless it's already explicitly spelled out for me
    • I won't keep making excuses . . .
    You tend to minimize the significance of your own shortcomings and are not being honest with yourself. Through all of this discussion, I believe you actually know all the answers to your repetitive questions, but choose to delude yourself into thinking that you are not the source of the problem - all the training in the world would not change your distorted perception. Your students are paying a huge price for your self-deception which is unfair and unfortunate.

    Did you actually interview for your current position?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
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  11. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    I am going to be honest. If you keep saying "I can't do this" and always feel bad for yourself, then that will always be the case. Try to find a solution and say "I can do this".
    Understand that teachers can not have little whiny temper tantrums when they are not up to par in the classroom. Teachers work to improve, but never give up.
    I have been teaching for 20 years (may a little more) and I am still not a perfect teacher. I still have some elements to rework, along with the need to add elements.
     
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  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 28, 2018

    To be fair... In my district, there are no set pacing guides, and in my department (English), almost no one uses textbooks. What we have is our standards (Common Core) and a choice of novel sets to use, and some agreements on "core texts" for each grade level.

    So what I have done, as many others have described, is create my own pace chart. I made a simple table broken down into three sections (units) per semester, and started with my core texts. Then, I plugged in each of my standards that I wanted to connect to my core texts. I then worked backwards, creating assessments for each standard, and activities to practice for each assessment. For example, we are currently reading Hamlet, so we are working on the standards related to drama, plot, conflict, character development, etc. My assessment is a project in which students will create a filmed version of a scene for a play. My daily plans involve journaling, reading aloud, acting out scenes, close reading soliloquies, etc., to practice the skills students will need to create an informed interpretation of the text.

    I did this the summer before I started teaching my course, but you could still do this now. For middle school, I would do shorter units, maybe four weeks each. So with three months to go, you could have three main units, each centered around a certain standard.
     
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  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This (except for Common Core--we use our provincial curriculum expectations) is the same for me. I know what I have to teach, but it is up to me to decide when, how, and with what resources.
     
  14. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Unless I'm mistaken, I was told that we had too many standards to cover to use novels; we have to use the stories in the textbook. What I'm supposed to be able to do is match the stories in the books to the skills covered in the writing textbook, but, well, that's actually more difficult than it sounds, and I didn't even know we were supposed to do that until recently anyway.

    You are right, though. I should start working instead of whining. The reading textbook, though, is huge. I know it's meant to have all of what the students need, but there are just too many choices, and it's a lot more difficult to get familiar with the stories. I would really prefer teaching a novel. Even if it didn't have everything I needed, I could comfortably supplement with outside sources, possibly. It's better than having what I need buried in a sea of stories.

    From my perspective, teaching a novel would be much easier than this.

    1. It would be easier to become familiar with the story
    2. I could probably find a really good teacher's guide online
    3. It would be easier to keep the kids' attention.
    4. They would always have some kind of anchor activity to complete.
    5. I wouldn't get confused by trying to find stories to match the standards I'm trying to cover. Maybe everyone doesn't have this problem, but trying to read a selection of poems from a unit on poetry and choose the best ones that are "kid friendly" and will sample course material well is not a lot of fun.
    6. I wouldn't feel the need to assign huge projects to keep the kids busy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  15. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I guess I should just work with my strengths and try to minimize my weaknesses. I can teach vocabulary and grammar pretty well, because they are simple and straight-forward. They don't involve trying to break down common sense. Teaching a kid to isolate and explain a theme, though, is another issue.
     
  16. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    I'm sorry to inform you, but every word in your last response reflects status quo. Your continued use of weak words like guess and try connote the probability for continued failure. You admit that you are limited (my word) to teaching things that are simple and straight-forward, have difficultly applying what you have been taught and often lack the ability to find and organize what you need to get the job done. It's ironic that these are the same challenges that teachers must often help their students to overcome! Although you are also required to help students understand abstract concepts and apply higher order thinking skills, your own serious limitations in these areas prevent you from doing so.

    You hardly ever comment on the effect that your personal issues have on your students. If you are sincerely concerned about their academic welfare, please don't just offer to resign, but submit your resignation as soon as possible! Stop fooling yourself and others. It's time to move on already.
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I am so FREAKING sick of schools/districts saying "we don't have time to teach novels" or "these kids can't understand novels." I think it is really code for "we don't want to spend $$ buying novels." What a shame. What a joke. (***frustration obviously not aimed at the OP!!****)

    I love the freedom my novel-based, self-created curriculum gives me. I don't know if teaching novels is really "easier" than teaching stories in an anthology, though...I think many people might argue that it's "easier" to assign pages to read and questions to answer in a textbook. But how many people's love of reading was kindled by reading a textbook?

    Also, I know this is kind of heresy for an English teacher....but I personally don't like short stories! I always find the "twist" either contrived or unsettling. If I never have to teach "The Lottery" again, I will be happier for it!
     
  18. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I just re-read your post and...not trying to be rude, but are you a certified language arts teacher? Because reading and selecting literature that is aligned with your standards and that will speak to your students is approximately 99.9% of lesson planning as an ELA teacher. If you don't think that part of it is a lot of fun...what part of it do you think is fun, honestly? I get that you are struggling with classroom management and organizing curriculum, but if you don't even like (actually LOVE) your content area...I don't know that anything anyone can tell you is going to help with that.

    They say we become teachers for one of two reasons: you either love your content area, or you love kids. I am honestly one of those who loved my content first, and fell in love with my kids that first year (even when they drove me crazy). If you don't love the kids, and you don't love researching your content, I don't know what to tell you.
     
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  19. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    Mar 1, 2018

    Even when the district provides a pacing guide, they aren't always going to be helpful.
    One of the best ways to keep discipline under control is via good lesson planning, which comes full circle to your original issue.
    Beginning the class: have something for students to do as soon as the class begins, some sort of bell work that gets them in the seat and working quietly. Make this part of your regular routine so the students know what to expect.
    Manage your transitions effectively and don't linger in between portions of the lessons. If nothing is happening, the students won't feel like they need to pay attention. So they won't.
    If there IS down time, make sure students have something to do other than talk/distract the rest of the class. If there's some sort of ongoing project they could be working on, excellent. If not, silent reading is good for any language arts class.
    Making an engaging lesson will minimize discipline issues with most students. If they have something to do and have a reason to care about it (other than "because the teacher said so" or "because it's for a grade) then they're less likely to refuse to participate or to cause disruptions. (As far as HOW to do this, look more into "Backwards Design" and "Gradual Release of Responsibility." Those two concepts should drive most of your planning.)

    If you have problems finding appropriate texts to use, consider looking into the Common Core's suggested texts by grade level. Consider which texts you used in high school. Look into what kids the age of your students are reading these days; young adult literature is the most well-written, most diverse, and most complex it's ever been right now. When trying to determine if a lesson could be engaging or not, ask yourself the question: "When I was in high/middle school, would these activities have bored me to tears?" Not every lesson will be jam-packed with exciting activities and you can't please everyone, and sometimes you have to do somethings that aren't fun in order to reach your goals, but you should be trying to make your lessons interesting, for both your students and yourself. (I would must rather TEACH an engaging lesson than give a dry lecture and hand out worksheets; this isn't to say lectures and practice worksheets don't have value, but you can't live off them.)

    If you're not allowed to use stories outside of the textbook, then that's not a good way to run the school, but that also sounds strange and you might want to double-check the accuracy of that statement. If you're allowed to venture outside of the textbook, you should check libraries or online for resources. You can find the full text of many classic works for free online, or acquire electronic versions for $3 or less. I know some YA authors have written short stories that relate to their novels and have released them for free online. Also, get familiar with the stories in the textbook; I wouldn't want to be confined to using a single textbook, but that doesn't mean there's nothing worthwhile in that book either.

    I know a lot of this is pretty basic stuff, but I hope some of it is useful for you.
     
  20. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Well, my boss finally decided to give full instructional control to someone else. I'm guessing maybe that could relegate me to just being a warm body in the classroom. Sound familiar? This is what they did at the other place, too--only this time I can't blame anyone but me; this really was the ideal teaching environment. I feel bad about this, but it really is the best decision, given the circumstances.

    I just wish I knew why I performed so badly, though. I was a straight A student in some of my classes and made the dean's list several times. I went through student teaching twice, observed several teachers, and subbed at many different schools.

    I guess I'm just not innovative or flexible enough to solve new problems immediately, but an exact answer would be nice. "Teaching just isn't working for you," or any of its variations is not a satisfactory answer. I want to know why I'm failing. Is it that I don't understand the curriculum? Is it because I'm not extremely organized? Is it something I can learn with ease or something I would struggle with?
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
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